Is Jacinda Adern part of the great resignation?

Chief people officers discuss prime minister’s departure and importance of having fuel in the tank

Is Jacinda Adern part of the great resignation?

As workers emerged from the pandemic and reprioritised what was important to them, they began resigning in droves, giving rise to the term the “great resignation.”

Along that lines, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Adern announced that she would be stepping down from the position, saying she “no longer had enough in her tank” and was looking forward to spending time with her family.

“I think leaders should not only be looking at what we have in the tank but also, at whether we have the capability to provide the kind of leadership the world needs. Being a leader is a very serious business right now,” said Monica Ayers, chief people officer at NZ Post.

While people are always keen to put in the extra yards when required, “demands need to oscillate so we have adequate time to recover and refresh,” adds Mark Lewis, chief people officer at Connetics.

“If our business/delivery model is based on consistently doing more the same, while being more competitive, this is not a sustainable strategy with a larger long-term downside to the medium-term upside.”

“My 10 cents is that we need a correction,” said Lewis, “and Jacinda is doing the right thing for herself, her whanau, and the institution,” he continued. “Our economy and business performance are based on doing more than what is allocated to turn a buck or get things done.”

“It’s best to nip burnout in the bud rather than when someone is completely in breakdown mode,” one expert recently told HRD. But nearly three-quarters (73%) of HR leaders are experiencing burnout directly caused by recruiting and hiring.

Tough times

Adern faced much vitriol over the years. Newshub reported that in 2021, the police dealt with 50 threats against Adern, and that number has tripled since 2019. Former intelligence worker Paul Buchanan told that Adern would need more ongoing security and protection than any former NZ prime minister.

Ayers explained, “We’re still experiencing the impact of the pandemic, both in our nation’s health and in the worsening economy and as a result, the division and inequalities in our society are emerging in ugly ways.”

But in both business and government, “we need values-based leaders to rise to meet our challenging context, people who have the energy to work with others across the traditional lines of party politics and corporate competition,” she said.

“We need innovation, great ideas from many quarters, and the capability and humility to listen to the experts.”

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese summed it up nicely in a tweet.

“Jacinda Ardern has shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength. She has demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities. Jacinda has been a fierce advocate for New Zealand, an inspiration to so many, and a great friend to me.”

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