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What We Can Learn From Jacinda’s Leadership Style

My mother always told me that polite conversation should never include politics or religion. Whilst Jacinda is inarguably a politician, today’s blog focuses not on her politics, but her leadership. Mum, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ll let me off the hook this once.

I’ve been watching Jacinda Ardern’s career with interest since she came out nowhere just seven weeks before the general election, and was elected as NZ’s Prime Minister in 2017. That surely makes for an interesting leadership study and causes me to reflect on what in Jacinda’s style is relevant to recruitment. In my experience, great leadership shines brightest during crises, and Jacinda has navigated many. She has dealt with terrorist attacks, volcanic eruptions, and of course global pandemics in her short three years as PM. In the middle of all this, she also became a mum for the first time. So, what can we learn from Jacinda’s leadership style? I’ll share what I’ve learnt, and how you can use it in your hiring!

Communication is Key

In response to COVID-19, Jacinda held press conferences to explain what was happening and why. Throughout the pandemic, she provided clear and consistent communication across a range of platforms. She used Facebook live sessions to provide information informally so people had multiple ways to understand her message. The way Jacinda communicated galvanised our Kiwi friends around a shared goal and purpose. As a result, our trans-Tasman mates have been one of the more successful countries in managing the response to COVID-19.

Similarly, hiring teams can communicate with candidates in a clear manner free of company jargon. You can create interest and excitement by sharing the organisation’s goals and purpose and how the open position supports it. You and your recruitment team can communicate these messages in job ads, position descriptions, and as part of the interview process.

The amount of time Jacinda allocated for questions following the initial press conference reminded me that communication is a two-way street. I try to make time at the end of interviews to ask, “Is there anything further about your skills and experience we haven’t covered that you’d like to share?” I’ve found this question has often provided insights I might otherwise have missed.

Empathy and Kindness

One of the hallmarks of Jacinda’s leadership style is empathy and kindness. In the wake of the terrorist attack in Christchurch last year, Jacinda consulted with community leaders to understand their needs in formulating her response. She adorned a headscarf and she opened with an Arabic greeting in her address to parliament as a sign of respect.  

We all know interviews can be a stressful experience. At Clicks, we work with all candidates who progress to interviews to ensure they are well prepared, as we understand that preparation is key to interview performance.

Over the years, I have spoken to hundreds of candidates following their interviews. The ones who’ve had a positive interview and feel they were able to effectively communicate their skills and experience share:

  • The interview panel made efforts to make them feel comfortable
  • The hiring manager introduced themself and shared a bit about their own career journey in the organisation
  • There was acknowledgement and even some laughter about how nervous the candidate might be feeling

Understanding the candidate’s perspective helps you see them at their best and could help you fill that role a little bit more quickly. I believe there are many benefits to caring.

Leading by Example

Jacinda made history and headlines when she took her 3-month-old baby to the UN. She wanted to provide an example for working mums and women in parliament.

I think demonstrating the behaviours we are looking for in our interactions with candidates is a great way to highlight their importance and reflect organisational values. As a member of Clicks’ Executive Leadership Group, I am always reflecting on my leadership and looking for opportunities to learn and grow. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Please email me or call me directly on 03 9963 4804 to share any ideas.

Clicks has partnerships in place with Australia’s leading training organisations and can organise preferential pricing for you and your team across a range of areas, including leadership development.

For additional support during COVID-19, please take a look at our Remote Workforce Resource Centre.

For contractor support or any hiring needs, please reach out to me or your Clicks Account Manager or contact us on 1300 CLICKS.

Tamara Ryf

Regional General Manager, VIC and ACT



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