What we are seeing emerge now, I think, is a tale of two leaders.
We are seeing the contrast between the rise of Simon Bridges and the fall of Jacinda Ardern.
One started atop the world, all smiles, hope optimism and empathy. She even had a ‘mania’ attached to the end of her name by an enchanted media.
The other: Subterranean, invisible, unknown, constantly undermined by those around him, always looking down the barrel of potential coups.
Over the course of the past two years, their trajectories have been quite different.
Ardern is charismatic, she smiles a lot, she nods a lot, she says inspirational things and you want to believe her.
But slowly it’s being undone. The Empress has no clothes. She lacks commercial and interpersonal acumen. She is not a natural leader, she’s indecisive and farms things out too much _ reports, reviews, committees, working groups.
I lost count of the number of them when they hit 200.
She’s no CEO but she would make a great Head of Marketing and Communications – a lot of talk – a lot of PR, no substance.
Not transformational, not open honest and transparent, not decisive, not even aware of what’s going on within her own party.
Would be a great Minister of Tourism.
On the other hand, we have Simon Bridges.
Backed into a corner by conspirators sharpening their knives and people taking odds on his demise, he’s had to claw and dig his way into the fight. Today he’s looking more comfortable, self assured, and actually self effacing in respect to his weaknesses.
Yes he knows he will never grace the cover of Vogue and yes he talks with a fierce Kiwi twang, but he’s getting clearer on what leadership looks like.
And that’s the difference.