Use WWJD to build your skills
Last week Jacinda Ardern became New Zealand’s third female Prime Minister. At 37 years old, she is also the world’s youngest female leader on the international stage.
I’ve been watching Jacinda’s campaign since she became the leader of the NZ Labour party less than three months ago. Her approach to successfully realising her ambition at a relatively young age is an inspiration for anyone interested in standing for public office.
If you need some strategies to hone your political or leadership skills, it’s time to channel your ‘inner Jacinda’.
Build your skills and confidence by asking yourself ‘What Would Jacinda Do?” Here are six steps to take for the WWJD approach and win at politics.
1 – Set your goals and work hard
A passion to make the world a better place, from a young age can fuel a political career. Jacinda has said, that growing up in a small-town, she was moved by the inequality of poor students at her school who turned up in bare-feet, unable to afford shoes. She joined the Labour Party at 17, became involved in social justice movements, volunteered in a soup kitchen in New York then worked in the office of UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Known for her strong work ethic, at the age of 28 she became the youngest elected NZ Member of Parliament in 2008. Now, as PM, she has pledged to tackle social issues such as child poverty and affordable housing.
2 – Get yourself some mentors
Aspiring leaders can benefit from the support of mentors to help them access and maintain power. Ardern credits her Auntie, Marie Ardern, with getting her into politics as a teen. Marie, a longstanding member of the Labour Party, promised the 16-year-old “I’ll teach you a little about politics” and brought the young Jacinda along to local campaigns for practical experience. After graduating from university, Jacinda worked for NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark, who mentored the young Jacinda. Now, as New Zealand’s third female PM, it’s fitting that Jacinda will, in turn, become an inspirational role model for women and girls all over the world.
3 – Build alliances, coalitions and networks
If you really want to deliver change, then you need to build your influence.Jacinda is a master at building coalitions and networks; all in the name of developing a force for change. This has involved cooperation with such unlikely alliances as Winston Peters, to build a coalition government with the New Zealand First party and managed compromises with the Greens to guarantee supply.
“I’m not willing to do politics as usual — I do bring a different approach, I favour being able to collaborate where I can.” Jacinda Adern,ABC
4 – Be diplomatic and SMILE
Follow the first rule in politics; ‘turn up and be nice’. Jacinda in campaign mode followed this rule an added her personal twist of an enormous smile. In addition, her diplomacy is seen to be a key strength. It’s a no-brainer that voters want to elect someone to represent them whom they can both trust and relate to as a ‘normal’ person who seems approachable. The wave of ‘Jacindamania’ that swept NZ prior to her election showed that a lot of people warmed to her charisma. She was also praised for her diplomatic handling of incidents such as comments by Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop of “foreign interference” by NZ and questions from a male journalist on her intentions to become a mother.
5 – Millennials grab your moment
It’s time for the Gen Ys and Millennials to stand up as political leaders. Jacinda’s election as PM aligns with the generational shift seen by the recent election of other young world leaders. This includes Austria’s likely next chancellor, Sebastian Kurz (31); the Irish PM, Leo Varadkar (38); French President Emmanuel Macron (39); and the (young-ish) Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau (45). It seems the world has an appetite for youthful leaders.
6 – Never give up
It’s not over until it’s over As New Zealanders waited more than three weeks to hear who would be their next PM, Jacinda never gave up working the deal; even reportedly bringing a ginger cake to discussions with Winston Peters. The news finally came through 26 days after election day. Jacinda showed patience and ambition in equal measures, never losing her cool.
Next time you need to channel your inner Jacinda, take a moment to ask yourself What Would Jacinda Do?
Ruth McGowan OAM works as a consultant and trainer in Local Government. She is passionate about gender equality and supports women to run for political office through her Get Elected workshops. (She’s also got a bit of a fan-girl crush on Jacinda Ardern)
Pics from https://twitter.com/jacindaardern