World-Class Leadership Lessons from Volodymyr Zelensky

Published on March 17, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is mirroring what a world-class leader would do if they were to be leading a cause or trying to solve a major crisis and get the masses to follow along.

Leaders of any organization should take close note of the 3 key strategies that Zelensky is using to create and implement a Velocity Mindset®. Zelensky has implemented it so well that he’s driving people to move forward both literally and in support of his country from around the globe.

  1. The transparent leader. Zelensky is taking you into his life. Hiding in the bunkers, and not hiding in the bunkers – he’s showing you what the reality is because he wants everyone to see it for what it is.Transparency helps leaders build trust. When people trust, it impels them to support.Same thing happens in business. If consumers believe that a company has their best interest in mind, they will continue to show their support with sales and brand loyalty, but if they doubt that trust, they will quickly dissipate.Trust is crucial for gaining support of others.

    But to gain trust, one must passionately believe in the cause and do whatever it takes to bring a dream into reality. Which brings me to the second strategy Zelensky is using.

  2. The Evangelist. You need an evangelist to inspire people to move forward, especially when they have their backs to the wall and life in danger. Failure is not an option. That is the kind of mindset everyone needs if they are going to make their vision a reality. Zelensky is acting as the evangelist for Ukraine.Going back to business, let’s consider the success of Apple as an example. When Apple first got the idea for the Apple Computer 1, they had Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs working on the design. But one of their very few first hires was Guy Kawasaki.

Today, Kawasaki is a well-known author and speaker. But back then, he was the company’s evangelist. He would go to a company like Lotus, at the time, and say, “Hey, this doesn’t exist but it’s going to be out in 6 months, and we need the software for it. We want you to create the software and invest a million dollars.” Why are they going to follow? Because he’s selling them on a dream.

In the case of Zelensky, he’s selling everyone on a dream too.

Internally, he is motivating his fellow citizens to stay and fight. He is leading by example. This is why he did not accept the U.S. offer to relocate him to safety. Actions often speak louder than words.

Externally, he is motivating the world to take up his cause and support Ukraine. He spoke to a standing room of the UK Parliament as he brought them back emotionally to the time Winston Churchill was imploring their country not to give up. He also received a standing ovation from the U.S. Congress this week in his Evangelistic Plea for more help.

Imagine live virtual talks, all designed to gain support and arms. All while fighting for someone’s life. Leaders of any organization should take note of this and use it as a motivating example.

3. Will. At the end of the day, it’s the will of the people who decide whether a regime is going to last.

Even a totalitarian regime that clamps down on the people collapses eventually when people have enough of it and stand up to protest. This is exactly what happened when the iron curtain came down to end the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West. Yes, the leaders on both sides pushed reconciliation. But it was the WILL of the Soviet People to push for change that led to those negotiations.

Velocity is the perfect balance of both speed and direction. The direction here is where you are trying to go.

For Zelensky it’s survival – he wants his country to survive, and he wants his people to survive. They don’t want to be occupied. You need that passion around your destination – whatever it is if you are ever going to gain velocity.

At the end of day, what is happening in Ukraine is a lesson for the ages on how leaders lose and how they win. My only wish is that leaders worldwide learn their lessons on their own without inflicting needless pain and suffering on others. If we really want to ensure this does not happen again, let us all embrace the leadership skills President Volodymyr Zelensky is relying on to save his country.

Ron Karr is the author of The Velocity Mindset® – the balance of speed and direction, both of which must remain in alignment for professional and personal attainment. It is the fusion of science and business leadership – the actions that guide the things we already do every day, with the foundation of elevating others, regardless of their role.