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We hear about great leadership every day because effective leadership is meaningful and impactful. Instead of the corporate hierarchy, great leadership involves social influence. Anyone can be a manger but not everyone can be a great leader.

Leadership is the art of motivating people to meet a common goal, which can be achieved by all employees regardless of their position or title. Effective leadership involves adaptability in the face of different situations and obstacles. Great leaders have a wide toolbelt of skills that they can utilise to achieve their goals, their organisations goals, and help their employees achieve their own individual goals.

As we continue to endure this global pandemic, we wanted to see who, outside of our typical day to day work has impressed us by making the good decisions and behaving in ways that inspire others. Here are some great examples of individuals in sport, politics and science that have stood out in 2020 for that very reason accompanied by the notable behaviours that created that impact.

Jacinda Ardern – Prime Minister of New Zealand

As Jacinda Ardern continuously makes the headlines for being one of the best world leaders – male or female – of our times, her strong set of skills can be attributed to her success. As she won her second term as New Zealand’s prime minister with a landslide number of votes and is the countries youngest ever female prime minister, Ardern acted swiftly and strictly in delaying the spread of coronavirus and even at the time of writing continues to stamp down urgently on small returning outbreaks. She demonstrated decisiveness, empathy, understanding and her approach is modern in a world of dated politics.

Ardern validated the fact that she stands with the people by voluntarily taking a 20% pay cut to ‘close the gap’ between herself and those affected by COVID pay cuts. The country has around five million citizens and yet, in total, at the time of writing, has just 26 deaths with the economy practically operating back to normal thanks to her quick and effective leadership decisions.

Marcus Rashford – Manchester United Footballer

Rashford spearheaded a movement to make sure underprivileged schoolchildren had access to free food over the school holidays. The Manchester United footballer has been vocal about his efforts to put an end to child food poverty and has been working to extend the government’s free school meals campaign which he lobbied for, to function over the holidays until Easter 2021, instead of only during term time.

The petition, created by Rashford in October 2020, beckons the UK Government to provide meals during all holidays for schoolchildren, and for free school meals to be extended to households who are on universal credit. He has been vocal, determined and prepared to stand up for his beliefs on behalf of others.

After forcing the government to make a U turn with a relentless social media campaign and trending news stories, the leadership shown by Rashford earned him an MBE at 22 years old.

Toto Wolff – Mercedes F1

Toto Wolff is Team Principal & CEO of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. He is the managing partner of the team alongside wider responsibilities as Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. In 2020, Mercedes secured a seventh consecutive double world championship. This sets an all-time record of consecutive constructors’ championships, ahead of the six achieved by Ferrari from 1999 to 2004. In the same season. Lewis Hamilton became the most successful driver in terms of race wins at the 2020 Portuguese GP, and secured a seventh world drivers’ championship at the Turkish GP to tie the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher.
With his background in Finance, Wolff believes that his leadership style is adopted from watching on the sidelines as he has moved through businesses. He drives home a no blame culture and believes in leadership by example, staying present and keeping everyone connected.

“Our team is about empowerment, if one person is sidelined completely then one of the team will pick up the ball and run with it”

Following the end of the 2020 F1 season, Wolff signed a new deal with the Mercedes which would see him stay on as team principal and CEO for another 3 years.

Anthony Fauci – American Physician-Scientist and Immunologist

There are few better-known authorities on the covid-19 pandemic than Anthony Fauci. As one of the world’s most respected infectious disease experts, Fauci faced several pressures in 2020, no more than advising the US president about the challenging nature of the coronavirus, and how the pandemic might end.

He has become a familiar face and voice in America, talking through the intricacies of covid-19 and was at President Trump’s side when the US declared a national state of emergency. Even though his dedication to communication and evidence-based science put him at odds with the administration he was under, he stood his ground.

“I can tell you, I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president, so it was really something that you didn’t feel that you could actually say something and there wouldn’t be any repercussions about it. The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence, what the science is know that’s it, let the science speak, it is something of a liberating feeling.” Quote taken from The Guardian online.

Fauci remains a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force under Biden is 2021.

As the challenges for us all continue, it can be useful and perhaps a ‘mental break’ to look and ‘be inspired by other sectors in life. We’ll share more of this thinking later in the month.

Final Thoughts

Every leader has an urge to lead, inspire, and contribute to the greater good. Specifically, how will you continue to lead with positive influence during 2021? What help might you need to tweak / step up / be seen in different ways?