New Zealand PM shares insights on leadership in a letter to UPES student
As part of UPES’ Leadership and Teamwork course, student Nancy Bora sent out a questionnaire to Ms. Jacinda Ardern, who responded by detailing her views on leadership, the challenges she faced and overcame as a female leader and more…
April 12, 2021, was an ordinary Monday morning for UPES student Nancy Bora until an email arrived. It read,
The Prime Minister has asked me to forward the attached letter to you, which she has written in response to your email.
Thank you for writing, and take care.
It was from the office of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Ms. Jacinda Ardern, with her official letter attached to the email.
As part of UPES’ School for Life Leadership and Teamwork course, student team ‘Star Catchers’ from BA in Journalism and Mass Communication wanted to make a documentary film on Ms. Ardern as they were highly inspired by her governance. The team consisted of Nancy Bora (team leader), Nandini Asthana, Anuj Gupta, and Anshika Singh.
On being encouraged by Mr. Gaurav Misra, Assistant Professor – Selection Grade, School for Life, Nancy sent out a questionnaire to Ms. Ardern. However, she was quite surprised when Ms. Ardern sent a reply to her on her official letterhead.
Reeling with joy and unable to contain her excitement, Nancy opened the letter. The Prime Minister had answered every single question, detailing her insights on leadership.
In the letter, Ms. Ardern expressed her gratitude to Nancy for writing to her, stating that she would do her best to answer all the questions. Articulating the definition of a leader, the New Zealand Prime Minister wrote, “I think a leader is someone who has inspired trust and respect in others, and so gained the opportunity to guide and influence them. There are so many different kinds of leaders. In my own experience of leading, it involves a lot of consideration, discussing ideas, planning, and sheer hard work to make things happen.”
Shattering the stereotypes
Known for breaking the stereotype of associating leadership with masculine traits alone, Ms. Ardern is a powerful personification of soft power. The New Zealand Prime Minister has always been a strong advocate for empathy and compassion; for her, kindness is strength. “In terms of the values a leader needs, I’d say an effective leader is kind, caring, motivated and determined. I think those are the qualities which most make me want to lead, and also enable me to do it well.”
Answering Nancy’s question on the obstacles she faced as a female leader, Ms. Ardern recounts that there have been challenges throughout her political career. However, she was able to overcome them with the help of a strong support system – her family, friends and the Members of Parliament.
“I know some people have doubted my abilities based on my gender, perhaps especially when I was pregnant with Neve. But the voices of support and confidence far outweighed the negativity, and I knew that I could be a prime minister and a mother,” the NZ PM wrote.
It is this clarity of thought, determination, and the resolve to lead with compassion that has set Ms. Ardern apart and earned her widespread admiration across the world. The philosophy of UPES School for Life, too, echoes the same sentiment.
The one-of-a-kind school nurtures students to become the next generation of empathetic leaders and create a sustainable, inclusive, diverse, and tolerant world free of dogmas. Through courses such as ‘Leadership and Teamwork’ and ‘Ethical Leadership in the 21st Century’, the school aims to provide a holistic perspective to students about life, work and happiness based on value-based living. Students develop an understanding of the varied culture-specific dynamics in the society, build collaborative relationships and explore a deeper understanding of values and ethics based on real-world instances.
Thrilled with the experience, Nancy thanked UPES for this exposure and her new-found confidence. She said, “UPES gave me the space to grow and the opportunity to learn, which made me believe in myself. My mentors here motivated and nurtured me with the right values and skills.”
UPES believes that the role of an educational institution goes way beyond making students employable. Through School for Life, the university is preparing its students to become conscious global citizens who can bring about effective tangible change for the benefit of the world at large, attaining a higher purpose in their journey.