From Marguerite Ward, writing for Insider Magazine…
Three weeks ago, when President Joe Biden offered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy an escape from his country as Russian forces invaded, Zelenskyy replied, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”
The answer is emblematic of Zelenskyy’s unflinching allegiance to the people of Ukraine, which has taken center stage as the world lives through what experts have called “the biggest geopolitical event since WWII.” Through his words and actions, the 44-year-old head of state has emerged as a relentless defender of democracy.
Last week, nearly 40 European lawmakers wrote a letter to the Nobel committee asking the organization to extend the Nobel Peace Prize nomination deadline so Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine could be nominated. The gesture illustrated Zelenskyy’s influence on the world as a beacon of effective and inspiring leadership. But he didn’t need the letter to solidify his place in history. He’s done that himself.
From his look — an unshaven face and plain, dark green T-shirts and zip-up sweaters — to his direct and impassioned tone, his prolific use of social media, and his presence on the streets of Kyiv, Zelenskyy is moving the goalpost on what a modern world leader looks and acts like.
Zelenskyy is not a lifetime politician. Though he’s licensed to practice law, he grew a career in acting, eventually playing the president of Ukraine before actually getting into politics. His style stands in stark contrast to the decorum and formality that have defined political leadership for centuries. Think of the measured tone of Queen Elizabeth II in her radio broadcasts during World War II or the calculated language used by President Dwight Eisenhower at the beginning of the Vietnam War. Zelenskyy’s tone is also extremely different from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s style, which has been described as “aloof” and “emotionless.”
Insider broke down a few key moments in Zelenskyy’s leadership during Russia’s invasion to illustrate how he’d inspired a nation and set the standard for leaders of the future.
For the rest, click here.