The global community is currently being confronted with an extreme challenge as Putin’s Russia wages war on Ukraine. Ukraine is a proudly democratic country which is now fighting for its identity and right to be a sovereign nation. 

After more than two years of a world-wide pandemic, clear evidence of climate change-related fires and floods, and now a war raging in the Northern Hemisphere, we look to our leaders for guidance and wisdom. 

But what makes a ‘good’ leader? 

Yes, leaders need to speak up. Yes, leaders need to make decisions. But leaders are then rightly judged by what they say and what they do. Who they consult with and how they communicate help inform our view of leadership? Good leaders engage with the communities they serve with a voice that unites in the face of change and uncertainty.

Outside of the political realm, many people are re-assessing their working life and focusing on what matters to them personally. This is reflective in the corporate trend of ‘purpose-driven work.’ Living through a pandemic and witnessing the catastrophe of war and climate change, many are now looking to find purpose in their work outside of purely taking home a wage.

Looking to the Ukrainian people, it is clear that their very way of life is under attack. While it is an extreme situation, the war is serving to focus attention on protecting the most essential aspects of a civil, democratic society.

As we watch in horror of the unfolding war in Ukraine, we can also admire the memorising clarity of purpose and calm passion from the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

As President Zelenskyy said recently (translated) 

“It is our ability to instantly unite during ordeals, find common ground and fight together that creates our character, Ukrainian character. We may not notice each other in everyday life…But when we see a threat to our way of life, to our spirit, when we see a threat to Ukraine, our state, we do not hesitate even for a moment. If we are Ukrainians. We unite. We do everything to protect what’s ours.”

Living in Australia, our daily challenges cannot compare to those in Ukraine, yet we still should demand leaders who are resilient and can unite and support us in times of uncertainty. 

Since 2006, the Committee for Geelong has supported the development of over 500 people in their community leadership journey. The Leaders for Geelong program provides our city-region with inspired and well-connected visionaries who are better prepared to lead their own organisations and the wider community.

Leaders for Geelong is a 12-month program that develops personal leadership capacity through a unique learning experience, with community projects designed to address the current social, economic and environmental issues of importance to the Geelong city-region.

These projects provide the participants with a chance to deep-dive into a local issue, work together and show leadership in providing a way forward. In 2021/22 the community projects include working with organisations Barwon Health, BATForce (Barwon Adolescent Taskforce), Creative Geelong Inc., Geelong Sustainability and Read the Play.

These projects aim to provide advice, support or resources to local organisations, but also support participants to be more deeply connected to their community and give lived experience of leadership.

More than ever, we all need to show leadership in our own way and in our communities and workplaces on issues that matter.

Jennifer Cromarty
CEO, Committee for Geelong
Chair, Victorian Regional Community Leadership Programs Inc

Image: The Australian