Compassion in crisis – better leadership in difficult times

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Leadership, Society, Trust

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We appreciate good leadership. Especially in times of crisis, times of hardship and times of pain – but what does good leadership look like in today’s world? A world where leaders can often be harsh, bullying and seemingly take great pleasure insulting those they purport to lead? I took a look at good leadership when I was honoured to present at ‘PR Face Off’, Malaysia’s international public relations conference held in Kuala Lumpur.

I spoke particularly about the leadership shown by the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the time of the Christchurch Terrorist Attack in March this year. During that period of time the world saw a very different display of leadership – one that showed strength through compassion, resolve born of tragedy. It is rare to see such a visible shift in leadership styles but it was a welcome shift. So many people around the world have been ground down by their leadership, rather than lifted up. Shouted over, rather than being heard.

One of the key elements of public relations practice is developing understanding and a vital part of that understanding is empathy. Crisis plans often a filled with the inherently practical and sadly there are few that look at, or include empathy, kindness, compassion and resilience – yet they should. Any crisis will see emotions run high and for leaders, how they deal with those emotions forms a critical part of their crisis response.