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Leadership is about connecting

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

During mounting domestic troubles Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week visited Antarctica on what was presented almost as a personal adventure, linked to her regard for Ernest Shackleton.

This contrasted with the new UK PM Rishi Sunak, who withdrew from a trip to the COP27 climate summit because of “domestic commitments”. He decided that it was more important to remain in the UK to address its “profound economic crisis” than to fly to Egypt to discuss climate change.

Ardern’s trip allowed a contrasting prosaic stunt from National Leader Christopher Luxon, who stayed in New Zealand to work at Mcdonald’s, reprising his first-ever job.

Whatever the various complexities involved in these actions, they illustrated something significant about leadership: relevance. The further you get from those you lead, the less you are relevant to them.

Sunak understood that whatever the importance of climate change, it had nothing on the immediate hardship experienced by voters. Luxon understood that whatever the worries for employment conditions, competently working a short shift at Mcdonald’s is infinitely closer to everyday experience and concerns than standing in Shackleton’s hut.

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