Ardern “May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet”

Politicians can never please all of the people all of the time, and some people will displeased about some politicians all of the time, but Jacinda Ardern is probably getting more praise abroad than any New Zealand Prime Minister.

The Atlantic:  New Zealand’s Prime Minister May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet

Jacinda Ardern’s leadership style, focused on empathy, isn’t just resonating with her people; it’s putting the country on track for success against the coronavirus.

I think it’s too soon to call our approach as success against Covid-19, but Ardern’s approach is widely popular with whining confined mainly to the perpetually displeased.

Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand, is forging a path of her own. Her leadership style is one of empathy in a crisis that tempts people to fend for themselves. Her messages are clear, consistent, and somehow simultaneously sobering and soothing. And her approach isn’t just resonating with her people on an emotional level. It is also working remarkably well.

People feel that Ardern “doesn’t preach at them; she’s standing with them,” Helen Clark, New Zealand’s prime minister from 1999 to 2008, told me. (Ardern, a fellow member of the Labour Party, got her start in politics working for Clark during her premiership.) “They may even think, Well, I don’t quite understand why [the government] did that, but I know she’s got our back. There’s a high level of trust and confidence in her because of that empathy.”

Clark isn’t a very unbiased judge of another Labour Prime Minister.

While Ardern conducts more formal and conventional daily briefings with other top officials and journalists, she puts her personal touch on these as well. “Trump does his briefings, but that’s a different kind of show,” Clark said. “On no occasion has Jacinda ever spun out and attacked a journalist who’s asked a question,” she noted, in reference to the American president’s repeated tirades against journalists. (When a reporter forgot his question upon being called on during a recent briefing, Ardern jokingly told him that she was concerned he wasn’t getting enough sleep.)

“She doesn’t peddle in misinformation; she doesn’t blame-shift; she tries to manage everyone’s expectations at the same time [as] she offers reassuring notes,” Van Jackson, an international-relations scholar at Victoria University of Wellington and a former Defense Department official during the Obama administration, wrote to me in an email. “She uses the bully pulpit to cue society toward our better angels—‘Be kind to each other’ and that kind of thing. I think that’s more important than people realize and does trickle down into local attitudes.”

Not sure the Kiwiblog crowd would agree with this, but they’re a small mob who would never be happy with a Labour Prime Minister.

Ardern is similar to Barack Obama in that she’s “polarizing at home [while] popular abroad,” Jackson said. “But her favorables are never higher than when she’s pulling the country through a crisis.”

She has certainly done well fronting a number of crises.

Jackson cautioned that while Ardern and many young European leaders have expertly navigated the coronavirus crisis, he still worries about how this new generation of leaders will handle what comes after it.

“Strategic decision making and crisis decision making are very different,” he noted. “The world is going to be changed, largely for the worse, in the coming years. A great depression seems all but inevitable. China’s strategic opportunism knows no bounds. Dictators everywhere are using the pandemic to solidify control of societies. Multilateral institutions aren’t delivering as promised. Getting through this crisis intact is just one step in a longer process toward a brave new world.”

Of course for any leader success to date doesn’t guarantee ongoing success, and dealing with Covid and the associated social and economic disruptions will be an ongoing challenge for Ardern and her Government.

Ardern has been effective enough over the last month, but the next 6 months will be just as important.

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62 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  20th April 2020

    Winston is playing the long game as counter-point to Jacinda. He knows fear will give way to anger and he will be there saying he told them so. Jacinda plays emotion to her constituency and Winston plays rebellion to his. Simon isn’t in the game yet. He’s hoping he doesn’t have to be.and the government will just wear the disaster.

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  20th April 2020

      Winston is just waiting for the tide to turn. He’ll ride the backlash back into power.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  20th April 2020

      How can they ‘ride the backlash’ they boarded the Labour Lockdown express some weeks back on March 25
      Bridges -“There is no National or Labour or Green or ACT or New Zealand First; just New Zealanders. We should be going to Level 4 lockdown this evening.” ( all direct quotes)

      The other partys made similar statements
      I think sometimes you guys really are complete morons and live in a fanatsy world of make believe where things you agree with just didnt happen
      Even Seymour
      “DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I join with my fellow New Zealanders and members of Parliament here today in welcoming the Prime Minister’s notice under the Epidemic Preparedness Act. It has come not a moment too soon, when the stakes are high—they are literally life and death. We must now carry out the Government’s strategy in order to make sure that we come out on the side of life.
      https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/combined/HansDeb_20200325_20200325_02

      Reply
  2. Geoffrey Monks

     /  20th April 2020

    I think the statement “most effective leader on the planet” needs some context. Her profile off shore is one context; her management of rouge and/silly members of Cabinet, another.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  20th April 2020

      don’t think even Anne Tolley wears rouge these days….Geoffrey.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  20th April 2020

      There has always been concern about which planet Labour is on, Geoffrey.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  20th April 2020

        Yes . When Bill English was found to be getting the taxpayer to pay him to live in his own Wellington home 6 months after the 2008 election, Key kept him on and changed teh rules to make housing allowances ex gratia payment no matter the circumstances.
        Thats called Planet Handout

        Reply
        • Actually, Bill English was given wrong advice by the department in charge of these things, and as soon as he realised this he paid the money back. John Key had nothing to do with it.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  20th April 2020

            Pleeeese… he was crafty enough to know what he was doing.
            That was another feature of the Key government ministers pleading….’I was given wrong advice.’.
            The ninnys took it, often letting them know what the expected advice was to be anyway.
            Key after this rort was exposed removed the existing housing allowance rules completely to make them ex gratia flat rate no matter the circumstances. So he was involved.

            Reply
      • Geoffrey

         /  20th April 2020

        😏 Sadly true.

        Reply
  3. David in aus

     /  20th April 2020

    What is leadership? That should be the fundamental question when assessing a leader. Popularity and leadership are very different entities.

    Jacinda is definitely popular, especially among those of a certain political bent. She is blessed with fantastic communication skills. In western countries with short media and public attention spans, this is a highly valued commodity. Results are too long term for people to evaluate politicians. And results haven’t been great so far.

    She benefits from the international left wing media’s attention primarily due to the dearth of successful progressive figures. People have seen through Trudeau’s empty suit.

    When we look back at great leaders, communication skills, although important, pales to insignificance compared to political courage and judgment.

    I think Jacinda needs to work on political courage. I cannot remember when she took an unpopular position because she thought it was the right thing to do. Maybe it is because she has to pass things through Winston.

    As yet, I cannot of a decision she has made that has fundamentally changed the nation, or captured a new way of thinking.

    But is she the queen of public relations? Most definitely.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  20th April 2020

      ‘ People have seen through Trudeau’s empty suit.’—yes that’s why he is in his 2nd term as Canadian P.M despite the black face beatup and everything else.

      Reply
  4. Much of the fawning Atlantic article is weasel words. ‘tempts people to fend for themselves’ ??? That’s meaningless.

    She’s not displaying much empathy for the small business owners who are facing bankruptcy and crippling debts, the victims of domestic violence forced by law to stay with their abusers, the 500,000 people living alone now forced into social isolation, the old people who have been left to fend for themselves because it’s illegal to go into their houses to help them, the people who have become unemployed because 500 people have a virus, the people whose surgery has been put off to keep hospitals half empty for 15 people, the people who have died with no friends or family or the people who have been forbidden to visit them….

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  20th April 2020

      not forgetting the cover of TIME magazine,FT article,aussies love her,she is internationally feted and admired….now the Atlantic…they’ve all got it wrong and a perennial whinger has got it…right!

      Reply
      • artcroft

         /  20th April 2020

        And yet, she’s not a patch on Key.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  20th April 2020

          thank goodness,a quitter,ex forex trader,one man wrecking ball with a fetish for playing with young girls…hair!

          Reply
          • The people who fawn and toady don’t have to live with her disastrous decisions.The Aussies might sing a different song if she was their PM.

            Nothing that I said in my list was untrue. All those things have happened. She has a peculiar way of showing empathy.

            Your remark about John Key’s supposed fetish was about the level one expects from you.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  20th April 2020

              Re Key nothing that I said in my list was untrue.

              Every single thing you said on your list is b/s.

            • Rubbish. The police have reported a rise in domestic violence; the women involved are like everyone else, unable to move from the house they were in. The women’s refuge people have told them to ignore the lockdown if they are in danger. They wouldn’t do this if the victims were not legally obliged to stay where they are.

              It’s true that the home help cannot legally go into the houses of old people or they’d be doing so. The only people who can go in are those who live alone themselves.

              Surgery has been put off for who knows how many people and many small business owners are facing bankruptcy because they still have to pay rent and other overheads (this has a negative effect on the landlords who in many cases can’t pay the mortgage and can’t afford to carry the tenants)

              500,000 people in NZ live alone.

              If you think that unemployment won’t rise, you’re dreaming.

              It’s true thar families are forbidden to visit dying relations and friends. Or have funerals for them.

              You seem singularly ill-informed about the restrictions of Level 4. Or the number of people in NZ who actually have Covid19.

              Your remarks about John Key were your warped opinion.

            • Blazer

               /  20th April 2020

              quitter….gave up being P.M-‘nothing left in the tank’ =TRUE
              ex forex trader,worked at Elders and Merrill =TRUE
              1 man wrecking ball,oversaw huge ramping up of inequality=TRUE
              hair fetish-tricophilia,well documented,multiple incidents =TRUE

            • duperez

               /  20th April 2020

              Warped opinion? Mmmmm …

            • Duker

               /  20th April 2020

              The police domestic violence callouts only increased over what was happening the first week. May be similar to other holiday periods
              All crime and road accidents were down as you would expect
              And men who abused partners were taken to temporary accommodation at empty motels
              https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12324065

            • duperez

               /  20th April 2020

              Tell us what ‘showing empathy’ looks like. Tell us how you would have her act to demonstrate empathy.

              If she sat back right from the beginning and said ‘what will be will be,’ would that have been showing empathy for business owners and those likely to freak out by being in lockdown?

              If thousands had died as a result would you have then claimed she showed no empathy and had no feeling for people in letting the situation develop?

              My reading from seeing many examples of your views is that your preordained judgement of Ardern sees you incapable of have any empathy for her or the situation she is in. She’s in the hot seat and has to make decisions. You expect her to please all the people all the time. Well, expect her to make decisions you agree with and so please you all the time. If she doesn’t she is the flawed one. Empathy ain’t a one way street.

          • artcroft

             /  20th April 2020

            Didn’t destroy 100k jobs though.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  20th April 2020

              levelled Christchurch…though.

            • Duker

               /  20th April 2020

              “Didn’t destroy 100k jobs though.”
              All the parties in parliament supported the level 4 lockdown, it was a complete bi partisan effort to tackle the crisis in this way, and its succeeded
              Backsliding will definitely create a second wave of infection over winter…that was often the most deadly one back in 1919.

              Even the normal rise in flu at this time is well down as well, thats even more lives saved.

  5. Tom Hunter

     /  20th April 2020

    ….and attacked a journalist who’s asked a question,

    Has she ever been asked a hostile, gotcha question of the kind Trump faces every press briefing? Has she coped with an almost 100% set of such questions from a press corp that hates her guts?

    Nah. She’s faced a media that’s much like the one Obama faced when one senior (and respected) journalist asked him what had “enchanted” him the most about his first 100 days in office.

    Awwwwwww (wipes tear from eye).

    Jackson cautioned that while Ardern and many young European leaders have expertly navigated the coronavirus crisis,….

    Wait! What? Leaving Jacinda aside what European nations have navigated this “expertly”. I know Germany and Austria have but their leaders are not young. And France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark…… The EU has not exactly covered themselves with glory, young leaders or not. A statement exactly as I would expect from a former Obama official: these people really do prop eachother up constantly.

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  20th April 2020

      Sweden has navigated it expertly. The media just hate the idea that a country has behaved differently.

      Reply
      • David

         /  20th April 2020

        They really do, its like a knee jerk reaction rather than actually look at it dispassionately which is kind of their job. The Swedes seem on the whole very happy with the way its going with the local backlash against some “experts” who penned an open letter to change.

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  20th April 2020

        “Sweden has navigated it expertly”
        Greece and Sweden have same population , one is expected to have peak at 120 dead in two weeks the other is peak at 6000 dead over a long 10 weeks
        Guess which one had an early and strict lockdown

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  20th April 2020

          Newsflash: Greece’s coronavirus exposure will not end in two weeks. More like two years.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  20th April 2020

            No they are not , they are at around 115 now and the peak reached very soon, at 125-130.
            Sweden isnt even at 25% of their possible peak. Swedes are locked in their country as no one will allow them across the border for 6 months

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  20th April 2020

              No-one will be allowed across Greece’s borders for 2 years IF they did manage to eliminate the virus which they probably won’t. Your 2 weeks is just drivel – the first foothill before the alps.

            • Duker

               /  20th April 2020

              One has 25 new deaths per day and no let up , the other has 7 a week and slowed right down. That’s what epidemics do , follow sine curves

        • artcroft

           /  20th April 2020

          But has Swedens health system collapsed. Cos that’s why we’re doing this to save the health system appearently.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  20th April 2020

            Hindsight…when you can’t predict anything , even stuff that’s happened.

            Reply
  6. oldlaker

     /  20th April 2020

    The FT has published an even more fawning piece titled: “Arise Saint Jacinda, a leader for our troubled times” (without even a hint of irony).
    The writer even praises her for being able to remember what insulation Batts are made of after a visit to the factory. It should be satire but I fear it’s not. (I was expecting perhaps Ardern was asked a question about whether bats were responsible for the coronoavirus and muddled them up…)
    It’s particularly strange to praise her intellect and mastery of minutiae in a nation that has a PM who can recite chunks of the Iliad in Ancient Greek and has written a successful novel, as well as a Churchill bio and edited the Spectator.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  20th April 2020

      ‘a PM who can recite chunks of the Iliad in Ancient Greek and has written a successful novel, as well as a Churchill bio and edited the Spectator.’…haha..are you fucking…serious!Bol.

      Reply
      • oldlaker

         /  20th April 2020

        Blazer.. do you really think all those things aren’t worthy of admiration? (I compared them with Ardern being asked what Batts are made of and praised for knowing the answer!)
        Whether you like him or not, Johnson’s intellect is on a different planet to Ardern’s.

        Reply
        • Griff.

           /  20th April 2020

          Is that the Boris Muppet who was boasting about shaking hands and then ended up in ICU?
          Real smart .
          ……

          Reply
      • Duker

         /  20th April 2020

        Johnson is a notorious dilettante when it comes to government business.
        Wasnt he fired from the Spectator for fabricating part of a story !
        Churchill was master of the english language both written and oral long before becoming PM ( and continued afterwards)
        Johnson isnt even a 3rd rate speaker in the House of Commons

        Reply
  7. David

     /  20th April 2020

    Look its great for the tourism industry. She does great press conferences and she is naturally a lovely person and cares which is generally not the qualities that get you to be a countries leader, she got to the top by accident so she is a total oddity, but a nice one.
    Most of the media are woke, mainly female, a lot of millennials and they look at Ardern and see themselves, their friends and what they aspire to turn the world into. They quietly overlook her pretty average performance in this term outside of areas where her emoting shines through.
    She will need to be a lot tougher when we come out the other end of this when there are deficits, job losses etc to deal with.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  20th April 2020

      Seymour -” I join with my fellow New Zealanders and members of Parliament here today in welcoming the Prime Minister’s notice under the Epidemic Preparedness Act. It has come not a moment too soon, when the stakes are high—they are literally life and death. We must now carry out the Government’s strategy in order to make sure that we come out on the side of life. [ – as an aside quite well said!]

      Bridges– There is no National or Labour or Green or ACT or New Zealand First; just New Zealanders.We should be going to Level 4 lockdown this evening.

      Reply
  8. Gerrit

     /  20th April 2020

    A real leader would have faced questions in the peoples parliament (even if it was attended remotely) where the opposition had a chance to question her on decisions made.

    A real leader does not hide behind a authoritarian wall where, like all dictators do, only the echo chamber is heard. The emergency powers should have (and must for the future) contain a government of national unity to rule the roost.

    Will the committee headed by Bridges get to question Ardern?

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  20th April 2020

      another hilarious post,from another disappointed right winger that was sure Ardern would be a flop!
      Suck it up losers.

      Reply
      • artcroft

         /  20th April 2020

        I still think she’s toast, as would be any leader in this situation. With huge numbers of a suddenly poor and unemployed middle class going to the polls in November I can’t see her govt surviving.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  20th April 2020

          well the alternative is not inspiring at all.

          Reply
          • oldlaker

             /  20th April 2020

            Blazer, you’re not tacitly admitting Ardern might not be PM come year’s end are you? Perhaps even you can understand that now matter how much the media fawns over her now people may be less gulled and forgiving when they work out they are ruined and that some of them will never work again?

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  20th April 2020

              if these people you speak of blame Ardern for C19 ,their IQ would suggest that they…are unemployable anyway.

        • Duker

           /  20th April 2020

          The measures taken were supported by the other parties including National and Bridges.
          They would seem like hypocrites and two face schemers if they went for a flip flop

          “Today, on the big questions in this House and in New Zealand, we agree. There is no National or Labour or Green or ACT or New Zealand First; just New Zealanders.
          We should be going to Level 4 lockdown this evening.
          We are putting in all the economic resources and investments required to defeat this common enemy.
          https://www.national.org.nz/leader_of_the_opposition_s_statement_on_state_of_national_emergency_and_move_to_alert_level_4

          Its never ceases to amaze me how ignorant the right wing are , beyond stupid sometimes, as the magic away things that have happened and have been said

          Reply
          • Gerrit

             /  20th April 2020

            It never ceases to amaze me how left wingers are so happy to circumvent democracy.

            No question; ALL parties supported the lockdown. However the inability of the Ardern government to include ALL parties in the governance, of the nationwide state of emergency, is being questioned.

            Beyond stupid sometimes, that democracy can be magically stripped away.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  20th April 2020

              Passed by parliament … thats the heart of democracy, which will be sitting again next Tues as indicated a month ago.
              The Health Act , The Emergency management Act , The Epidemic Preparedness Act.
              Plus legions of clauses in other Acts , the Judges Court Rules etc all activated when a State of Emergency/Epidemic Notice issued.

            • Blazer

               /  20th April 2020

              like the Nats didn’t do with the GFC…you mean.

            • Duker

               /  20th April 2020

              Christchurch earthquake had a whole lot of people’s property rights taken away
              They even stiffed those without insurance who thus lost the value of damaged house, but being in a red zone meant the land value offered was only a half. You can’t insure land anyway and the Nats took it away with only half compensation. A court judgement and labour returned their stolen land value

            • David

               /  20th April 2020

              The Christchurch quake payouts for the overwhelming majority was huge, very few didnt do exceptionally well.
              The land the houses were on couldnt be fixed or rebuilt on or repaired the taxpayer was incredibly generous.

            • Duker

               /  20th April 2020

              They took away the property rights of those in the Red zone, and for those without house insurance the value of the land only offered was 50%.
              The courts ruled it was an illegal action by Brownlee and the new government gave them the full payment of their land value

  9. Geoffrey

     /  20th April 2020

    Anybody recall that Winston Churchill, inspired leader, was dumped after WW2?

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  20th April 2020

      been mentioned numerous times Geoffrey.
      A very witty individual who galvanised the british people in WW2.
      A very flawed individual all the same .

      Reply
  10. duperez

     /  20th April 2020

    Ardern’s quite likely a most effective leader. “May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet”? Or she is most likely our worst leader ever. “The Least Effective Leader on the Planet” even.

    Some talk of being embarrassed about Ardern and her being our Prime Minister. If they chose at random one of the Beehive Covid-19 briefings and one of the Trump White House ones they would think that the American version is a triumph, an example of real leadership.

    That’s how it rolls.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  20th April 2020

      Trump is a complete joke , hisperformance is beyond shocking. The first oval office speech he fluffed his autocue lines and the stock market plunged and aides had ‘correct ‘ him
      Later in his daily press monologues he would condradict something he said 20 mins earlier, as he can’t keep facts in his head that long.
      Made many false claims about his constitutional powers , including he can act as a dictator as ‘thats way the way it should be’.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  20th April 2020

        Better to have a president who says he’s a dictator but isn’t than a prime minister who says she isn’t but is.

        Reply

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