(Headline abbreviated, original headline: Under pressure: research reveals why New Zealand leaders need to stick their head above the parapet)
New insights suggest that New Zealand leaders need to be more visible if the public is going to trust them when the proverbial hits the fan.
A study of four of the biggest crises of 2019 has revealed the strengths and weaknesses of some of the world’s high profile leaders, and what business leaders can learn from this.
Media Intelligence and Insights business Isentia lined up Jacinda Ardern next to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Boeing’s Dennis Muilenburg and Rugby Australia’s Raelene Castle and analysed how they responded to exceptional circumstances.
Ngaire Crawford, Isentia’s Head of Insights, said: “The true test of trust is during a time of crisis. We know leadership can impact the reputation of an organisation, and how they behave during a crisis can alter how both a leader and an organisation are viewed long-term.
“Get it right and you can be an international superstar, but get it wrong and the internet memes can follow you for years. But this isn’t just about public glory or shame: it matters because it affects your bottom line.”
The analysis found Zuckerberg and Muilenburg got it very wrong and could learn from the words and actions of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the former head of New Zealand Netball, Raelene Castle, now in charge of Rugby Australia.
Crawford said: “Empathy and connection can be seen as a weakness by many commentators, however, this proved to be the greatest strength in the face of crisis. The world is changing rapidly and leadership requires a level of authenticity that it hasn’t needed before.
“In the digital age we live more of our lives in a public space, but we also crave personal connection and leaders need to factor this into their behaviour, making themselves visible and building a broader connection with their audience. It’s no good trying to do that when something goes wrong – it’s far too late.
“We know that CEOs are not the most trusted voices in an organisation and are considered less credible than other voices. That needs to change. These case studies have shown how crucial presence and authenticity are to ensure your actions and motivations are believed and these traits need to be nurtured outside of a crisis.”
The findings were laid out in Isentia’s latest Leadership Index, which focuses on a different aspect of leadership in each edition.
The third Index came in response to the high level of public interest in the desire to be safe: safe while flying, safe while online, and safe from persecution in digital and public spaces.
The four crises that were analysed for the Isentia Leadership Index were:
• Boeing and Dennis Muilenburg’s response to the grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft following two crashes that killed more than 330 people.
• Rugby Australia and Raelene Castle’s response to Israel Folau’s controversial social media posts, which led to the cancellation of his Wallabies contract.
• New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response to the Christchurch terror attacks.