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Jacinda Ardern to pen book on leadership

Set to inspire future leaders, Jacinda Ardern has announced she's writing a book
Set to inspire future leaders, Jacinda Ardern has announced she's writing a book Copyright The AP
Copyright The AP
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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The former Prime Minister of New Zealand, who made history countless times, has confirmed she'll be writing a book but, rather than a reflection of her time in office, it will focus on inspiring future leaders

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Jacinda Ardern has announced she’s writing a book after stepping down from office - but it’s not the political tome you might expect.

The former prime minister of New Zealand is instead setting her sights on inspiring a unique brand of future leaders in her upcoming book following a successful five years in office.

Throughout her tenure, Ardern made history and became an inspirational figure, not just boasting the title of New Zealand’s youngest leader - she was elected PM at the age of just 37 - but was also only the second female leader worldwide to become a mother while in office.

Resigning her role in January amid apparent professional burnout and unprecedented vilification, Ardern said that she hoped her legacy would be one of empathy and kindness.

After discussing numerous options on which to centre the book, she plumped for a guide on how to be “your own kind of leader”, writing in a Facebook post, “I didn’t want to write a book that hauled over the internal politics of the last five years, and then someone convinced me that I didn’t have to”.

The politician added, “Maybe it might be worth expanding on some of the things I talked about in my valedictory instead - like the idea you can be your own kind of leader and still make a difference and so that’s what I’m planning to do”.

The book, which has been speculated about for weeks, is set for a worldwide release, with Ardern confirming she’ll work with publishers Penguin, Macmillan and Crown. There are no official figures on how much she’ll earn for the publication, but there are rumours it’s likely to be a seven-figure payday.

While many of Ardern’s fans will be waiting impatiently for the release, the former prime minister wasn’t able to give a timeline for the project, but expressed that she’s writing it with a younger version of herself in mind.

“There's no set date for when it will be done”, she wrote, adding, “but I hope when it's done, it's the kind of book that would have made a difference to my 14-year-old self".

Despite leaving parliament, Ardern is still exceptionally busy pursuing a vast array of projects. Earlier this month, she was appointed a Dame Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (GNZM) in King Charles’ Birthday and Coronation Honours.

As well as acting as a trustee of Prince William and David Attenborough’s Earthshot Prize, she has accepted dual fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School for a semester beginning this autumn and as a Hauser Leader at the Centre for Public Leadership, where she will share her knowledge of leadership and governance skills.

Ardern will also work with Harvard's Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society as its first Knight Tech Governance Leadership Fellow where she’ll focus on the study of online extremism.

That’s a cause very close to her heart. In the wake of the 2019 terrorist attacks, where a white supremacist shot dead 51 people at two separate Christchurch mosques, she was praised for her handling of the tragedy and later founded Christchurch Call, an organisation which aims to combat online extremist content.

The AP
Ardern addresses the United Nations General Assembly in 2022The AP

Despite criticism from many corners, which tends to dog all high profile leaders regardless of their levels of competency, Ardern was also praised for her response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Acting quickly, she put in place the "widest ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world", closing New Zealand's borders would be closed to all non-citizens and non-permanent residents.

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National and international media hailed the government response led by Ardern, praising her leadership, with the Washington Post citing her regular use of interviews, press conferences and social media to keep citizens informed as a "masterclass in crisis communication".

In May 2020, Ardern rated 59.5 percent as 'preferred prime minister' in a poll - the highest score for any leader in the Reid Research survey’s history. It’s thought her response to the pandemic saved up to a staggering 80,000 lives.

AP
Ardern with fellow environmentalist Prince William, 2019AP

The reaction to Ardern’s upcoming book announcement has been almost universally positive, with comments under her Facebook post thanking her for being a continued source of inspiration, especially for young women and girls.

One comment read, “You're making generational change and you are inspiring women and girls to become leaders. Way past due!” and another added, “I'm really glad that you're going to be writing your book, and particularly THIS kind of book. You are a huge role model for so many people and will continue to make a valuable difference globally”.

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