A tale of two system-leaders: Zelensky and Putin

In my view, Volodymyr Zelensky has changed the tone of global political leadership: humane, real, unscripted, metaphorical, accessible. Stacked up against the over-scrubbed cardboard cutout of a figure like Justin Trudeau, Zelensky is providing a model of leadership that will ask other global to raise their game. Likewise, but for different reasons, Vladimir Putin is modeling the opposite: inflexible, hardened, stubborn, unbelievable, and unthinking. 

The contrast is stark. 

The consequences of these different styles of leadership are playing out across entire countries, regions, and the geopolitical landscape. Both leaders are having broad systemic effects on their respective systems: Ukrainian people are seemingly resolute, motivated, and aligned and the rest of the world is largely falling in line with broad support. Russia is divided, shaky, and possibly permanently negatively impacted. 

This is the interesting part, and within it contains many learnings for system-leaders such as yourselves: 

the impact of both is largely driven by their singular natures, both of which are causing ripple effects that reach the furthest corners of their countries.

And these ripples are generated by a singular individual – not the governments, not the political structures, not the policies. Just one individual and their collective actions.

Of course, this doesn’t happen completely in a vacuum – I get that there are other people involved beyond just these two system-leaders. But the broad systemic state of Zelensky and Putin’s respective countries are being determined almost solely by their system leader. If you want to see the exponential power of system-leadership playing out, there are few better examples than what is happening between Ukraine and Russia. One individual determining the ultimate survival (I pray) or possible demise of an entire country.

As a CEO, your actions are equally impactful across your business. That power lies in your hands: your choices, your words, your actions, your moods, your ambitions, your fears. Exponential influences can go both ways – better or worse. My hope is that you are highly encouraged to embrace the full power of your CEO role and to gift your businesses the power of excellent system-leadership.

Become your own Zelensky.

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My weekly missive, CEO Sundays, is published at 5pm every Sunday evening. The writings cover CEO topics exclusively: how-to’s; thought starters; leadership insights; reflection opportunities; research.

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