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Volodimir Zelenski's leadership


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Gerardo Castillo

Lecturer at School of Education and Psychology

Leadership has never been more talked about than it is today and there has never been such a lack of true leaders. In my opinion, the main cause of the leadership crisis is the pragmatism of today's society. The utilitarian mentality stifles high ideals.

At a time of drought of true leaders, the figure of Volodimir Zelenski has emerged. Initially a comedian, he never imagined the radical change his life would take. In 2019, at the age of 41, he would become president-elect of Ukraine.

Zelenski came to political leadership unexpectedly and circumstantially, just as Abraham Lincoln, Lawrence of Arabia and Ernest Shakleton did in their day. The circumstance that made it possible was his outrage at corruption in Ukraine's institutions.

The leadership was subsequently reinforced on the occasion of the invasion of his country by Putin's Russia. Zelenski went from being a comedian to a hero and providential leader for a beleaguered nation left to its own devices.

Leadership is a process of persuasion by which others are induced to pursue the same goals. Zelenski, in addition to being persuasive, is consistent in his principles and a great patriot who does not shy away from danger, including the danger of being killed by the hundreds of Russian henchmen Putin commissioned. When President Biden offered him a ticket to escape his country, he replied: "Don't give me a ticket, give me weapons!

Other leaders, in his case, would be in a bunker; he, on the other hand, remains in his office in the Ukrainian presidency. To deny that he is outside Kiev, he records and publishes videos. In some of them he says: "We will win this patriotic war". In my opinion, they are already winning it, because they have a good reason to fight that the invaders lack: the defence of their homeland.

If Ukraine continues to resist and refuse to surrender, it is because of Ukrainians' confidence in their leader. Zelensky has become a global leader, winning the battle of the narrative. He has managed, for example, to get a video of the Russian invasion seen on congressin the United States. He is demonstrating that he possesses the basic qualities of a true leader: bold vision, communicating that vision clearly to his fellow citizens and persuading them to make it their own, accepting great challenges and resilience in the face of adversity.

Moments of crisis often awaken the leader in some people. Such is the case with Zelenski, who leads with courage, sharing with his compatriots values such as selflessness, sacrifice, service and honour. His is moral leadership.

Leadership requires courage, because a leader has to take the first step and take the initiative. Leaders must have the courage to take decisions even if they are unpopular.