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  • Tausif Mulla

5 rules of leadership studied from actions of world leaders amidst COVID-19

COVID-19 has transformed a lot of things, mainly how the business operates. Most of the sectors of the economy are in red. For instance, aviation, tourism, manufacturing, and financial services, etc. have witnessed a dip in the growth of about 14.6% to 19.5%. Business leaders have been struggling to maintain falling revenues by taking harsh decisions such as lay-offs, salary cuts, delayed salaries. Apart from businesses, the leadership skills of world political leaders have come under the lens. Leaders like Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of New Zealand) showed the world what it takes to fight an unprecedented pandemic like COVID-19.

Here are 5 rules of leadership studied from the actions of world leaders amidst an unprecedented pandemic:

Serve the people

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai had quoted

The purpose of government is to serve the people, the aim of public administration is to serve society, and the role of government procedures, systems, and laws is to serve human beings.

A leader should always remember that s/he is a leader to serve the people of the nation/community. This is much related to “Servant Leadership” a concept coined by Robert K. Greenleaf and brought to the mainstream by Sir Ken Blanchard in his book Servant Leader.

Set your plan

When you do not have a plan, you are setting yourself up for failure. Few leaders such as Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jacinda Ardern took early steps to handle the crisis effectively. Both the leaders showed trust in their healthcare system and gave a centralized message to their people. The majority of world political leaders panicked and that resulted in the chaos that we see today.

Constant monitoring

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed directed his government to monitor the condition closely and take the necessary steps when required. So far, the UAE has performed well to tackle COVID-19 by taking measures such as lockdown, restriction on public gathering, switching schools, and offices to work-from-home, and most importantly rigorous testing. On the flip side, some leaders like Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro adopted a “hands-off policy” and discouraged citizens from following public health measures taken in other countries.

Communicate and be optimistic

Amidst the chaos, the right communication at the right time has been the key. Leaders such as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, PM Jacinda Ardern, and Chancellor Angela Merkel maintained communication with their people to bring optimism. In the US, every state had its own message, this decentralization led to vastly different actions by respective governors.


Currently, we all are going through a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). Our leaders need speed and agility to navigate our way forward. Only a few leaders have shown brevity in these testing times.

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