It is claimed that COVID-19 pandemic was the major trial of leadership of politicians and government officials all over the world (Friedman, 2020). During this time, one of the most prominent figures was that of Jacinda Ardern. She gained this popularity due to her skills, leadership style, and collaborative and empathetic approach in handling the pandemic crisis, which thus led her to put New Zealand on the track for success in battling the pandemic (Tyner & Jalalzai, 2022). This essay is focused on examining the approach adopted by Jacinda, as well as how this led to the successful overcoming of the pandemic and its related crisis. This essay initially examines the impacts of a global pandemic on a nation, followed by how Jacinda overcame this impact by displaying her leadership traits and qualities. This essay then explores the concept of crisis communication, which is followed by how Ardern utilized this strategy in overcoming crisis in her homeland. Furthermore, this essay also examines the admirable personality traits of Jacinda, a reflection on whether her style of handling a pandemic would be followed, and then concluding with a concise summary of the key points discussed.
The outbreak of the coronavirus, called Covid 19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) (Zanke et al., 2020). The infection was initiated in China and spread all over the world. Initially, it caused many health impacts and increased the morbidity and mortality rates. It affected people’s immunity and caused significant increase in the death rates, all over the world (Shang et al. 2021). But the pandemic did not limit to human lives; it had a direct and indirect impact on global economic conditions (Barua, 2020). Also, there is empirical evidence that suggests that pandemic situation has created political tension and social unrest, especially in weak nations or nations that resisted change (Shang et al. 2021). According to Lenzen et al. (2020), pandemic had social affects that resulted in labor market shocks and impacted the nature of jobs and income of people. Additionally, it also had environmental impacts, as it reduced the greenhouse gas and increased the air pollution, which hindered transportation and trade and caused macroeconomic affects (Lenzen et al. 2020).
Additionally, pandemic affected the macroeconomic environment, as it caused decline in tax revenues, and increased the expenditures that caused fiscal stress in almost all countries of the world (Shang et al. 2021). Furthermore, these unprecedent events have caused severe disruptions in supply chain and declined the economic growth of nations and caused many socio-economic implications (Shang et al. 2021). Governments, all over the world implemented strict measures, like lockdowns, social distancing and remote working schemes to control the spread of the virus, resulting in reduced economic and social activity in the countries (Belmechri, 2021). The Governments response of the globalized economies were extraordinary and quick. In 2020, many nations modified their fiscal and monetary policies, ensuring the flow of credit and reestablishing health policies. While, in the second phase the governments focused on policies of developing and purchasing vaccines and took economic measures to provide sustainable household income for people (Jackson et al. 2021). This essay examines economic fallouts faced by New Zealand and how its leader and government responded in the crisis’s situation.
New Zealand recorded 1,154 confirmed cases and 22 deaths from Covid-19 since February till the time the lockdown was lifted (case study). However, Jacinda Ardern (prime Minister) has been praised for handling the crisis well, as it was a collective effort of government, public-health institutions, opposition politicians, and New Zealanders (natives) as a whole, who had been following all the the social-distancing protocols and other restrictions. Role of leadership is not limited to organization but it is also essential for a political or critical situation in country. The New Zealand’s government responded promptly to manage the crises situation of Covid 19, which took different phases (Wilson, 2020). Initially, it adopted a ‘precautionary approach’ and when more cases were spotted in New Zealand the government moved to next phase of “Alert System” and so on. To manage these phases, the country required a novel leadership model and style (Wilson, 2020).
According to (Pope, 2020), empathic leadership is required to manage crises. For example, in Covid 19 pandemic era, leaders showing empathy through-out the crises period were recognized to be more effective. Similarly, Arden’s leadership can be described as an empathic leadership style, where leader focused on collaborative and inclusive approach and on the people of the country (Kumar, 2023). According to Wilson (2020), Arden responded to crises situation of Covid by using three approaches, which focused on meaning-making and empathy, to motivate the followers. Firstly, she directed the New Zealanders to stay home to save lives and made it a shared goal and mission and the purpose was to save lives (ANZSOG, 2022). Similarly, she used television for briefing and conducted regular Facebook live session to support her people to survive in the change and crisis situation (Wilson, 2020). Lastly, she persuaded people to achieve a “collective good”, which made the people and nation to respond and fight pandemic faster, than many other nations (ANZSOG, 2022). This real-life case shows the importance of emphatic approach in leadership.
Empathy is the ability to sense the emotions of others and leaders needs to be empathetic to understand the emotions of the surrounding people (Ivany, 2019). Empathy can be portrayed at different stages like: caring for others, understanding people’s perceptions and experiences. In times of pandemic, people faced a lot of emotional turmoil, where the role of empathic leaders comes to motivate them, enable survival, and fight the crises period (Linvill & Onosu, 2023). Hence, an empathic approach in leadership is essential for creating a successful and productive environment and manage different problems and crises situation (Roe, 2020). An empathic approach allows effective communication, where leaders communicate regularly, to understand the needs and feelings of their team members, build trust, encourage participation and foster collaboration to achieve shared goals, like Arden did (Bhalla, 2023; Roe, 2020). In case of crises, proactive, quick and regular communication is important. Therefore, crises communication is a strategic approach, used to correspond and communicate with the stakeholders, including people and organizations during a disruptive period (Sellnow, & Seeger, 2021).