Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand

Crisis leadership? In the time of Covid-19?

Three reasons why Jacinda Ardern’s coronavirus response (New Zealand PM) has been a masterclass in crisis leadership

Direction, care and meaning-making.

Senior Lecturer, Executive Development, Massey University

Imagine, if you can, what it’s like to make decisions on which the lives of tens of thousands of other people depend.

If you get things wrong, or delay deciding, they die.

Your decisions affect the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, resulting in huge economic disruption, mass layoffs and business closures.

Imagine you must act quickly, without having complete certainty your decisions will achieve what you hope.

Now imagine that turning your decisions into effective action depends on winning the support of millions of people.

Jacinda Ardern/Facebook

Yes, you do have enforcement capacity at your disposal. But success or failure hinges on getting most people to choose to follow your leadership – even though it demands sudden, unsettling, unprecedented changes to their daily lives.

This is the harsh reality political leaders around the world have faced in responding to COVID-19.

As someone who researches and teaches leadership – and has also worked in senior public sector roles under both National and Labour-led governments – I’d argue New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is giving most Western politicians a masterclass in crisis leadership.

Three communication skills every leader needs

When it comes to assessing New Zealand’s public health response, we should all be listening to epidemiologists like Professor Michael Baker.

On Friday, Baker said New Zealand had the “most decisive and strongest lockdown in the world at the moment” – and that New Zealand is “a huge standout as the only Western country that’s got an elimination goal” for COVID-19.

But how can we assess Ardern’s leadership in making such difficult decisions?

A good place to start is with American professors Jacqueline and Milton Mayfield’s research into effective leadership communication.

The Mayfields’ research-based model highlights “direction-giving”, “meaning-making” and “empathy” as the three keys leaders must address to motivate followers to give their best.

Being a public motivator is essential for leaders – but it’s often done poorly. The Mayfields’ research shows direction-giving is typically over-used, while the other two elements are under-used.

Ardern’s response to COVID-19 uses all three approaches.

In directing New Zealanders to “stay home to save lives”, she simultaneously offers meaning and purpose to what we are being asked to do.

In freely acknowledging the challenges we face in staying home – from disrupted family and work lives, to people unable to attend loved ones’ funerals – she shows empathy about what is being asked of us.

The March 23 press conference announcement of New Zealand’s lockdown is a clear example of Ardern’s skillful approach, comprising a carefully crafted speech, followed by extensive time for media questions.

In contrast, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pre-recorded his March 24 lockdown announcement, offering no chance for questions from the media, while framing the situation as an “instruction” from government, coupled with a strong emphasis on enforcement measures.

Where Ardern blended direction, care and meaning-making, Johnson largely sought “compliance”.

Enabling people to cope with change

Ardern’s approach also strongly reflects what well-known Harvard leadership scholar Professor Ronald Heifetz has long argued is vital – but also rare and difficult to accomplish – when leading people through change.

Ardern has used daily televised briefings and regular Facebook live sessions to clearly frame the key questions and issues requiring attention.

Extracts from Jacinda Ardern’s evening Facebook Live from home on March 25, hours before New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown.

Also consistent with Heifetz’s teachings, she has regulated distress by developing a transparent framework for decision-making – the government’s alert level framework – allowing people to make sense of what is happening and why.

Importantly, that four-level alert framework was released and explained early, two days before a full lockdown was announced, in contrast with the prevarication and sometimes confusing messages from leaders in countries such as Australia and the UK.

Jacinda Ardern’s March 21 explanation of New Zealand’s four-level alert system.

Persuading many to act for the collective good

The work of another leadership scholar, the UK’s Professor Keith Grint, also sheds light on Ardern’s leadership approach during this crisis.

For Grint, leadership involves persuading the collective to take responsibility for collective problems. Much of the prime minister’s public commentary has been dedicated to exactly that – and it’s been overwhelmingly effective, at least so far, with a recent poll showing 80% support for the government’s response to COVID-19.

Grint also argues that when dealing with “wicked problems” – which are complex, contentious and cannot be easily resolved – leaders must ask difficult questions that disrupt established ways of thinking and acting.

It’s clear this has happened in New Zealand, as shown in the suite of initiatives the government has taken to respond to the pandemic, including its decision to move to a national lockdown relatively fast compared to many – though not all – countries.

Of course, not everything has been perfect in New Zealand’s or Ardern’s COVID-19 response. Ongoing, independent scrutiny of the government’s response is essential.

But as my own research has argued, expecting perfection of leaders, especially in such difficult circumstances, is a fool’s errand. It’s never possible.

Nor should we allow the “perfect” to become the enemy of the “good” when speed and enormous complexity are such significant features of the decision-making context.

Whether you’re comparing Ardern’s performance against other Western leaders, or assessing her efforts using researchers’ measures of leadership excellence, as a New Zealander I think there is much to be grateful for in how she is leading us through this crisis.

Stay in touch with The Conversation’s coverage from New Zealand experts by signing up to our weekly newsletter – delivered to you each Wednesday.

Read more: Where are we at with developing a vaccine for coronavirus?

Read more: As NZ goes into lockdown, authorities have new powers to make sure people obey the rules


Evidences the Phoenicians colonized the Americas and New Zealand…

Over 2,000 years before Columbus discovered America and the Portuguese circumnavigated Africa and Magellan ventured on the Pacific Ocean… the intrepid and adventurous mariners Chaldeans and Phoenicians of the Near East had effectively colonized the Americas (South and North) and established trading centers in the Pacific Ocean Islands and New Zealand.

You may first read the second part

1. Phoenicians in Venezuela:

Prof. Dunkley explored the mouth of the Orinoco River. He discovered the “White Indians” tribe. This tribe appeared to have Germanic features, blond hair and blue eyes… They brewed and drank beer and were unseasoned primitive people. Emile Armand (1872-1962) argued that this tribe is of Phoenician origin who colonized this rich region in mineral to excavate and process. (The Phoenicians have colonized the shores of the Black Sea, currently known as the Caucasus region)

2. In Brazil:

Prof Ludovico Ciumhanej announced at a conference in 1929 that Phoenicians had been in Brazil at the time of the Trojan wars.

The Paraiba Stone gives this information: “We are Sidonian Canaanites from the city of the Merchant King. We embarked from Eztion-Geber into the Red Sea. We voyaged with 10 ships for 2 years around Africa. The hand of God Baal parted us. We landed on this island of mountains. We were 12 men and 3 women on this  “Island of Iron (barzel)”

Ludovico Ciumhanej presented evidences:

1. A stele discovered on a sandy bank of the River Serido in the province of Rio Grande do Norte said:

I came ashore a new harbor with my companions of 30 craftsmen aboard our 4 remaining ships. We marched for a few days inland to this mountain of mines. We worked here for 10 years and quarried gold, copper, and a wealth of precious stones. Sighed: Alkhton commander, Nada secretary”

2. In 1892, an inscription on a sarcophagus in Montevideo (Uruguay) read:

“During Olympic year, when Alexander, son of Philip, was king of Macedon, Ptolemy was sent forth on a mission”. Who but the Phoenicians could undertake such maritime missions to South America?

The Phoenicians excavated 4,200 meters of a network of tunnels to mine precious stones in the Amazon city of Maranon.

Maranon and Maranhao are corrupted cognate derivations of (Mar-ion) “The Great Lofty Archipelago

3.  New Zealand and Pacific Islands:

The historian James Cowan (1870-1943) argued that the Maoris of New Zealand belong to a distant branch of Caucasian people who had an important presence since antiquity. Cowan wrote:

“Customs are more persistent than languages, and most common habits of the Maoris are identical to the ancient mariners. The Maoris acquired their knowledge in astronomy from the Phoenicians with whom they have blood ties…”

Prof. A.H. Keane concurs that the “Polynesians of the East Pacific Islands (Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, Hawaii, and Cook Islands… can trace their ancestry to historic boats that made it to their shores prior to the 14th century BC…”

4. England, Ireland, the Baltic Sea:

In the previous post I described the periplus of Himilco who set out from Carthage around 500 BC and reached England, Ireland (Holy Island), and the Baltic Sea

The Isles of Scilly (south England) is still called Cassiterides (from Kasdir or Tin, where Carthage mined the tin mineral)

Carthage also profited from the “murex” seashells in Neabra-in-Castle and established the purple dye industry.

Historian Will Durant argues that “The Phoenicians were nothing if not the Britons of antiquity…”

The German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) stressed that the Phoenicians’ amber necklaces found in Tirynsian tombs (over 3,000 years ago) were genuine and authentic amber of Baltic provenance

Note 1: Prior of the Phoenician Alphabet, writing consisted of simplified graphic images of objects and ideas, a system meant to commit to memory 10 of thousands of shapes and images.

The Phoenician alphabet entailed the simple use of phonetic images, characters representing sounds that most people utter. The characters were consonant and written from right to left

Consequently, a mere two dozen letters covered the sounds in all human languages…

The ancient Greek and Etruscan (north of Italy) adopted this alphabets around 800 BC and were almost identical with the Phoenician.

The Phoenician alphabet were transmitted along the maritime cities, first in Al Mina (current Turkey), Ras el Bassit  or Tell Sukas (north Syria), Lefkandi (Napoli) and Pithecusses (north Italy)…

Classical Greek alphabet and later Latin characters merely changed direction of the letters, sort of mirror images, added a few vowels, and wrote from left to right. (Thinking of driving cars on left or right side, just to impose rules as Empires grow stronger and uncomfortable living in the shadow of former more civilized empires)

Note 2: You may read Part 1




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