Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have led New Zealand through one of its toughest assignments to date; the Covid-19 pandemic. Together they have led the country, each with their own unique style, but what is it that makes a good leader? We spoke to various leaders and experts to find out more.
An Expert Opinion
"Leadership is a journey, not a destination," University of Waikato Leadership Unit co-director Dr Maree Roche says.
In her opinion, the keys to effective leadership are to never settle, never assume you know it all and always seek growth and development.
As well as a growth mindset, leaders, at their core, need to be good people with good values, Roache said.
"The attributes of a good leader are the same attributes that make you a decent human. It's behavioural integrity, it's honesty, it's openness to relationships, growth and development. There are a lot of research articles about what makes a good leader but I think it always comes back to being a good person."
She said it was important to maintain your values as a person, regardless of how high you climbed on the leadership hierarchy.
"As we move up the hierarchy and perhaps get a bit more distant from the people we're supposed to be leading, there's sometimes a bit of a mindset change that goes with that. We tend to judge more harshly or value our own opinions more - the key to good leadership is that they are reflective and know themselves as well as being honest and authentic.
"I don't think leadership is a destination. As we get good at certain aspects, it's an opportunity, or a must, for leaders to keep engaging in that process of learning who they are and how they will develop as leaders."
When asked whether people were born leaders or it was something people could learn, Roache said "if we could solve that one, we'd be very wealthy people".
"I think, by and large, research has moved away from there being certain fixed traits that make you a good leader. Fixed traits tend to be things like your height or your eye colour, things that are very hard to change.
"I think everything in the leadership space can be learned but the key to understanding that is sometimes we have a disposition to learning something more quickly and more easily than other things.
"You can't teach leadership, it has to be learned by the person. I can give you the theory and the science but leadership is an art - it's up to you as a leader to build your art, through practise, learning, trialling and reflecting."
Although leaders are often thought of as those who are at the forefront, the loudest in the room, Roache said there were many styles of leadership, each as crucial as the next.
"There's real moves afoot to looking beyond the person who's front and centre to looking at the person who perhaps is behind the scenes a little bit more and enabling other people, a service type of leader.
You can't teach leadership, it has to be learned by the person. I can give you the theory and the science but leadership is an art - it's up to you as a leader to build your art, through practise, learning, trialling and reflecting.
"They provide the resources for others to succeed, a real humble type of person, who is just as important to the team. There are real moves to looking for and finding that type of leaders because they are the true enablers.
"Leadership is also a time and space. Good leadership emerges at times when we need different sorts of leaders. It's about being prepared to step up when the situation requires it."
Roache said that, without wanting to take any political angle, Ardern and Bloomfield provided an intriguing case study into different leadership styles.
"Dr Bloomfield really did embody that whole service leadership type. He stood next to the Prime Minister day in and day out, oversaw many crisis-like activities, he was constantly there and consistently enabling potentially good policy and good process behind the decisions that were made. I think he is an exemplary example of leadership.
"Many of my colleagues internationally are interested in profiling Jacinda Ardern and her leadership. I think there we have someone who brought people around her, communicated through crisis consistently and had that authenticity or behavioural integrity, day in, day out.
"Ardern has led us through three different crises; the Whakaari/White Island eruption, the Christchurch terror attacks and now this pandemic. All the way through she consistently comes across as a person with behavioural integrity, a person who listens to others and is a good communicator.
"I think those are two people who are on the world stage in terms of leadership."
Steve Chadwick - "Step back, take a breath"
When Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick was a child, she did not believe the school dentist was "child-friendly" enough.
She decided to do something about it and lobbied to those in power for change.
That desire for change and making a difference is what she says drove her to become a leader. Chadwick said it was important as an individual to have a value set to refer back to frequently.
"You have to keep questioning that on your journey of leadership. When I look back, even as a little girl, I always worried about equity, I worried about justice and I worried about fairness. I've carried those values through my life, ever since being a prefect at school.
"I challenged, I pushed for a student council and said we should be part of governance at the school, to provide a student voice. I think leaders are brave about challenging and they're brave about doing the right thing."
She said every good leader had a solid support network.
"You need a little group who are brave enough to take you on. I get a bit of supervision and I've had a mentor for the past 30 years who always challenges me. He challenged me and I didn't like it but we'd come back together and work out the next step.
"I'd suggest anybody who has the sort of determination to try to make a difference - that's all leadership is - that you get someone beside you who you value, who you challenge but who challenges you back and you can take it on the chin.
"I've always surrounded myself with talented people who get the job done. There's no way you can do it all on your own so I've always wanted highly performing people around me and wanted to let their light shine."
Another attribute she said she had learned to value was time management.
"I know that sounds corny but you have to understand what you want to achieve in your day, what you want to achieve for your family and yourself. I don't carry a diary but I do know how to keep things afloat, make a bit of time, have a bit of fun and keep yourself. Those things are very important.
"I have a huge hunger for work. I only need six hours sleep but I sleep like a log and I wake up raring to go. I drive people nuts with that energy and you do need that energy to cope with the reading and the listening."
In her role as mayor, Chadwick faces pressure from a number of different sources. She said it was important to not take things personally.
" You don't want to be so thick-skinned that you don't have hurt, that you don't re-challenge some of the assumptions and think 'is that right?'. Also, I am surrounded by love. Having that loving base, my family and my grandchildren, they're not concerned by what I'm trying to do politically, I'm just a mother and a grandmother. I need that.
"I get very calm [under pressure]. I'm a trained nurse and midwife and I was taught that when there's an emergency, to step back, take a breath and those few minutes of deep calm will give you a much more balanced response. Don't panic."
In terms of leadership, Chadwick had plenty of role models she looked up to and had learned from.
"I always admired Helen Clark and David Lange - I loved the nuclear-free Pacific and the Oxford debates and then Helen Clark's leadership after that. I'll never forget lobbying with her for midwife independence and we got listened to and the whole world has changed around where midwives fit into the scheme of things.
"You picked up different skills from them. I learned the work ethic from Helen Clark, I learned the messaging from David Lange and then I learned attitude of a successful minister from Annette King, she remains a dear friend because we worked together like a dream. She allowed you to go and you'd never want to let her down.
"Internationally, I'm so inspired by Obama. His whole political way of working, his mentoring of young people, his relationship with his wife and daughters. I read a lot of biographies and I read them with all perspectives. I'm inspired by people like that."
Karen Vercoe - 'Be a good follower first'
Te Arawa Lakes Trust chief executive Karen Vercoe's leadership experience ranges widely. She is also the elected chairperson of Te Pūmautanga o Te Arawa and sits on the Iwi Chairs Forum Māori Sport and Iwi leaders groups. She is a dual international sportswoman in rugby and touch and now coaches the Rotoiti women's rugby team.
Vercoe said anyone wanting to lead should first learn how to follow, learn the processes and the way a team works before moving up the hierarchy.
"I've found people that have done the work or put in the time are really good people to lead because they often understand what it means to do a particular job or to do a role. I think there are leaders and there are people with titles - I don't think having a title necessarily makes you a leader.
"It's about understanding there will be a time for you to step up and when that opportunity does come up, all the hard work you've done means you can step up well."
She said she began to develop leadership skills at a young age as the oldest grandchild.
"My grandfather was really into understanding our genealogy and where we stood - he pretty much drummed that into us, The earliest memory I have of understanding my whakapapa was probably at about 6 or 7.
"Being around my grandfather and my parents, who were heavily involved in our Treaty claim, that was my first sort of look at leadership. I was taken along to make cups of tea and that sort of thing. I didn't realise at the time but my koro was exposing me to the different types of leaders he would spend time with.
"Now, when I look back, that was a really good grounding. You have to learn to serve people first as a leader. For me, that's the really telling part, I meet some really incredible people around the country but if they can't do basic things like serve our elders I don't really consider them a true leader."
Vercoe said it was important not to isolate yourself and to have a personal network of people you could rely on.
"I'm really lucky because I have a really awesome support group. I have a bunch of friends who have been my friends for well over 30 years now. I respect them all immensely because they all have different roles, in their iwi or whānau or jobs, so they're a really good sounding board for me.
"The other way I deal with pressure is I try to do some other stuff that I love, like coaching rugby. Then there are a couple of people I really love hanging out with - they bring me back down to earth or patch me up when I've been wounded.
"Otherwise, there's my family, they're my other big supporters, my whānau. I'm a mum and spending time with my two kids always fills my soul."
In terms of leaders she looked up to, Vercoe said she had a "whole lineage" of aunties, uncles, her parents and grandparents who inspired her.
"I've been really blessed to be surrounded by a legacy of leadership, which is really cool. I've been exposed to leaders in sport, in business, in our iwi. The ones that really get to me are the likes of Sir Toby Curtis, I'm blessed because I work with him every single day.
"There's my uncle, Te Ariki Morehu, and when I think of really strong Māori woman there's Cathy Dewes and her fight around making sure our te reo is alive. My aunty, Annette Sykes, because she continues to fight for our rights in the iwi space.
"There's a whole list of them who I just really adore. We have so many Māori leaders who have done it for years and years and they're still funny and hard case. As a leader coming through the ranks, it's so beautiful to be surrounded by people like that."
Sarah Davis - 'Building relationships is key'
When it comes to leadership, Rotorua Girls' High School principal Sarah Davis has her hands full.
Not only does she lead a team of staff, she plays a crucial role in helping girls grow into young women.
She said her focus was always on relationships, communication and being part of the community.
"We've got these extraordinary girls, how can we connect them with what's going on in the community? How can we prepare them to be the best place they can be for Rotorua going forward? How we do we talk to iwi, how do we talk to health boards, council and whoever we need to so we're talking the same language of what we want.
"I think that is leadership and it always has been in our town, there has always been someone who has come through and shown that direction. We're seeing these girls now, so much younger, being confident enough to contribute to things which will ultimately be for the next generation to come."
Davis said it was important to have confidence in yourself and what you were doing.
"Confidence is about being open enough to absorb what you have around you. I think if you don't have confidence in yourself, you're constantly trying to fill a gap and that can sometimes not happen in a strength-based way.
"I think it's about creating opportunities. Schools have a group of 12- and 13-year-olds who come in and leave as 17-, 18-year-olds and you're given the privilege in that time to see an extraordinary amount of growth and opportunities. I continue to be amazed at what some of our girls can achieve.
"It comes down to relationships and one thing I think the school is good at is we look after everybody. It comes back to the relationships you build with the whānau, the common good being that the girl comes to school and does the best she can. It's relationships and communication - here there is always someone who knows you well and leadership is making sure people have time to create the relationships they need for everyone to succeed."
Taini Paul-Tomoana - 'A solid support network'
Rotorua Girls' High School head girl Taini Paul-Tomoana is a master of time management. She has passed every level on NCEA with excellence and is heavily involved in sport, as well as fulfilling her duties as a leader.
She said she learned a lot of what she knew about leadership through the work she does with her whānau at Ohinemutu Māori village.
"Anipatene [Williams], the deputy head girl, and I are cousins and both from Ohinemutu. We work with my mum and her aunty and their cousins as part of the Ohinemutu working development group. That's planning the future of our village and how we can make it better for the residents and the people not from here to come back.
"It's really important because it helps everyone who has moved away come back home, learn more about their family and who they are."
Taini said being connected with her whānau and where she comes from played an important role in her ability to lead.
"It helps keep me grounded. If I need to go back there I can go and ask for help because I know who to go to and who can help when I need it. That's my support network."
Davis said what held Taini in good stead as a leader was her bicultural background.
"She can speak fluent te reo Māori, she came through a kura kaupapa and she's in this amazing situation where the world she goes into after school, she can travel in both places.
"In particular with Rotorua, having a skill set is so important in terms of the way we are as a community. She is equally as comfortable on a marae as she is in a school setting. That shows what the future of our town is about."
Leon Fourie - 'Most leaders are a product of their environment'
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology chief executive Leon Fourie took up the position in 2016, the same year the organisation was formed as an amalgamation of Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Waiariki Institute of Technology.
He said the adversity he faced when he was young helped shape him as a leader.
"Most leaders are a product of their immediate environment that shaped them and will continue to shape them throughout their lifetime. Certainly, for me it was. I was raised in relatively poor living conditions and found myself in a constant battle to prove my worth, and as a result, developed an ability to always try and work harder and achieve more than anyone else around me.
He said he found his inspiration in his uncle who, by all accounts, was a real family success story, achieving a senior rank in the military.
''This led me into a career in the military, where I spent nine years before retiring with the rank of major.
''The military has shaped me significantly, striving to qualities and attributes such as integrity, courage, discipline, goal-focused, calmness under pressure, valuing your team, but also pushing me away from other distinctions such as being directive and hierarchy driven."
Fourie said leaders should be value-driven, emotionally intelligent, effective communicators, able to put the team first and inspire and empower others.
"I am at my core a values-based leader and believe that everything we do as an institution should be connected to our institutional values. It is our values that shapes our culture, gives us identity, a pride in who we are and what we stand for. It drives our performance and it sets expectations in how we conduct ourselves in our professional and personal capacities.
"You can't be all things to all people. Leaders naturally fall primarily into one or two categories and that is absolutely okay. Various leadership portfolios in any executive team often naturally lean towards a particular leadership type or style.
"The art, however, is in putting a team of leaders together that on-balance has coverage across various styles and approaches aligned to distinctive portfolios that bring out the best in the team dynamics."
University of Waikato Leadership Unit co-director Dr Maree Roche's top tips for effective leadership:
1. Remember leadership is a journey, not a destination:
"You are a work in progress as a leader, you need to understand yourself, both your good and bad, and keep learning from that."
2. Who you surround yourself with matters:
"They need to be honest with you. As we get higher up in leadership we tend to meet less with diverse ideas as we get busy. In your networks and support areas, it's important to surround yourself with people who both support and challenge you."
3. Surround yourself with diversity:
"Good ideas, honest feedback and seeing things differently comes from the diversity value of your network. This means people with diverse ideas and opinions as well as in terms of gender, ethnicity and those sorts of things."
4. Leadership is an art:
"It's easier theoretically, it's harder in actuality to shape yourself and your leadership style."
5. Keep the oil in the lamp burning brightly:
"That relies on you as a leader being able to step back and take care of yourself. Take time for mindfulness, exercise, time with loved ones - whatever it takes to have your own life in order so you can lead effectively."
6. Be a good person:
"A decent person is a great leader. That's what comes through in a lot of the leaders we see today, they are decent people and they do things for the right reasons."