Leadership Roundup: Quotes from Von der Leyen, Johnson, Carter, Zelensky, Hodson, Evans, Alam

Published by Scott Challinor on February 26th 2022, 12:00am

Our latest leadership roundup comes in a dark week for Europe. Russian president Vladimir Putin issued his historic televised address in the early hours of Thursday morning, declaring a “special military operation” would be launched in Ukraine, sending shockwaves throughout the continent and unleashing a wave of violence in the country.

This article includes some of the most striking quotes from world leaders in response to the crisis, while The Leaders Council also spoke with three industry leaders within the UK who shared their personal takes on leadership and how the role of the modern leader has changed.

Perhaps one of the most telling responses to Putin’s move this week came from European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, who upon announcing EU sanctions against Russia accused her counterpart of “bringing war back to Europe”.

She said: “Once again, in the centre of Europe, innocent women, men and children are dying or fear for their lives. We condemn this barbaric attack, and the cynical arguments used to justify it.

“Russia's target is not just Donbass, the target is not just Ukraine, the target is stability in Europe and the whole international rules-based order. For that, we will hold Russia accountable.”

Von der Leyen went on to accuse Putin of attempting to “turn back the clock to the times of the Russian empire”, a move that would “risk the future of the Russian people.”

UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, echoed von der Leyen’s words and informed the UK Parliament that Putin would stand “condemned in the eyes of the world and of history” for what he had done.

“He will never be able to cleanse the blood of Ukraine from his hands”, Johnson added.

“Although the UK and our allies tried every avenue for diplomacy until the final hour, I am driven to conclude that Putin was always determined to attack his neighbour, no matter what we did.

“Now we see him for what he is - a bloodstained aggressor, who believes in imperial conquest.”

Jimmy Carter, the former president of the United States, referred to Putin’s military assault as an “unprovoked attack” which “violates international law”.

Carter’s office tweeted with a quote from the former president: “Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine using military and cyber weapons violates international law and the fundamental human rights of the Ukrainian people.

“I condemn this unjust assault on the sovereignty of Ukraine that threatens security in Europe and the entire world, and I call on President Putin to halt all military action and restore peace.”

Carter also called for the US and western allies to “stand with the people of Ukraine in support of their right to peace, security, and self-determination.”

Throughout the saga, Volodomyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s beleaguered leader, has stood tall in defiance.

Calling on the Western powers to respond to Putin’s chilling move against the country of Ukraine, Zelensky ominously warned that if nothing was done to quell the tyranny of the Russian state, then “war will knock on” the doors of all in Europe.

“If you, my dear world leaders…leaders of the free world, don’t help us today, if you do not strongly help Ukraine, then tomorrow war will knock on your doors,” Zelensky said.

“Russia vilely attacked our state early this morning, just as Nazi Germany did during World War Two. Our countries stand on different sides of world history. Russia stands on the path of evil.

“Has the world forgotten its mistakes of the 20th century? What do attempts at appeasement lead to?”

The one-time TV comedian who now stands adorned in combat clothing informed his citizens that Kyiv was ready to arm any Ukrainians that wanted to fight and defend their country.

In a rallying call, Zelensky told the Ukrainian people to “be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities.”

While the violence in Ukraine comes after diplomatic efforts toward a solution failed, in the business world it is crucial that entrepreneurs establish early on their own negotiables and non-negotiables.

That is the view of Mark Hodson, registered architect, director and founder of his own architectural practice, Hodson Architects.

Hodson told The Leaders Council: “I guess one phrase, which I've always carried with me, in principle and in practice, is that in any kind of discussion...it is always about the negotiables, and the non-negotiables. To be able to know what you're able to negotiate on very fully and freely, and in a cooperative way, is good.

“You need to stay firm and understand that there are elements within whatever discussions you have that are non-negotiable. In leadership it is very much about having that confidence.”

The command-and-control approach adopted by the Russian leadership that has proven a major driver of the ongoing crisis is, however, something which appears to be dissipating in the world of business. According to Russell Evans, partner and leadership development training provider Primeast, leadership in industry is becoming more holistic.

“Leadership is more holistic now than it ever has been”, Evans told us.

“The old days of the command-and-control, scientific and process management style of leadership in most contexts is actually not good enough for what we face today. With societal changes and expectations that the modern workforce has about moral, ethical and purpose-related conditions that we have, we are now seeing a workforce that is wonderfully challenging for us as business leaders and broadly thinking about what the world needs. Consequently, leaders have to match that.

“To do this, leaders must create conditions where people thrive and one of the people that must also thrive is the leader themselves. If not, all that magic that leaders can create and help people create can become lost.”

Elsewhere, hair restoration surgeon and medical director at Aventus Clinic UK, Dr Suhail Alam, expanded upon this idea of how leadership has changed, sharing his perspective that mental health and wellbeing have become more of a priority for leaders than ever before.

Dr Alam elaborated: “I think one of the positives from this period we have gone through over the last couple of years is around that discussion of mental health and wellbeing. It has become easier to talk about and people are recognising it.”

Crucially in Dr Alam’s view, he felt that more male leaders were beginning to embrace mental health having been traditionally less forthcoming in discussing their emotions and feelings.

“Traditionally, I don’t think men have been very forthcoming when talking about these topics. There has been this longstanding view that men have to put on a certain face and behave a certain way, and that they are not necessarily affected as much emotionally. I think that narrative has now changed.

“I believe this because 90 per cent of my client base when it comes to hair restoration are men. These are now the conversations and discussions we have. I find that more and more people are ready to talk about wellbeing and are now recognising the need to take care of themselves. There is much heightened awareness around psychological wellbeing, as well as physical wellbeing. It is important that people have had this opportunity and that these discussions are happening more in the media and public sphere.”

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Authored By

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
February 26th 2022, 12:00am

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