A leadership love letter from t-three consultant Samantha Woolven to New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
I love you.
I have experienced many different leaders. I work with lots now, and I watch the world stage with interest. You - you make me feel safe and I thank you.
From 11,727 miles away (yes, I looked it up) your words, your actions, and your behaviours reach out and ease my fears. Your decisiveness, compassion, and fundamental belief in being in this together speak to me. You do all this whilst faced with some of the greatest unknowns we've ever seen in our lifetime, and I look to you with hope for a future I want to be part of.
There must be something in the waters around your beautiful country that breed women of calibre and strength. There has been so much written about you that I wanted to take a little time and thought to write something to you. Starting with a heartfelt thank you.
Thank you for being you. Thank you for role modelling leadership that others have said couldn’t be done. Thank you for placing care for others at the centre of all that you do. Thank you taking us all with you as you go through this yourself, with your own family, and with your country by your side. As part of my work, I was going to write an article about the role of oxytocin in effective leadership, how collaboration is great and trust will win out. But first, first I wanted to write something for me. I am taking your ‘Be Kind’ message to heart and hoping to give a little kindness in return.
As the spotlight shines ever more brightly on those who lead, I admire your ability to take swift action, leaning into the tough calls and owning your decision with humanity and grace. Don’t worry - I do know that you’re human too and get it wrong sometimes. I’ve built no pedestal for you to fall off and no bar that is set too high. I feel that you are raising that bar for us all and asking where next? Where you lead I shall follow; I promise to question, to challenge and to not follow blindly. I am happy and confident to place my faith in you.
In such times of great upheaval our natural response is to feel scared. Whilst others breed hate and selfishness that pull us apart, you preach love and courage that wrap us together. Your world is the one I want. You tell me that its ok to feel scared, its ok to want to hide in my bed, you tell me that its ok to be me and that there’s room for me to be all those things and more. Some days I am full of hope and aspiration for how this new world can be, how we can rebuild our societies and our work to nourish and inspire. I want to fill the world with curiosity and light and I want to do this together, We truly are greater than the sum of our parts and I want the world to see that.
Please count me as part of your team, I’ll be member 5,000,001 – though I’m sure the queue is long. If you keep doing you, then I will look out for the ‘yous’ too. I will stand up, I will be strong, and I will care. I will be here for those around me and I will help them rise.
Leadership is the culmination of a thousand tiny steps and the bravery of others to follow, This is my commitment to you. I will keep taking those steps and I will put my arm around others as I feel your arm around me now.