Michael Blake on Zelenskyy’s anti-strongman approach to leadership

Submitted by Kate Goldyn on
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Photo by Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images

Professor Michael Blake explains how Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s leadership style, which has been praised by both the citizens of Ukraine and political leaders abroad, demonstrates how he is the antithesis to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strongman style.

In this, Zelenskyy represents an image of not only resistance to authoritarianism, but also how leaders might appear as they engage in such resistance. [Italian philosopher and novelist Umberto] Eco, who grew up in fascist Italy, describes his surprise at how simple was the speech of those who took over after fascism’s fall. Democracy, Eco marveled, entailed the freedom to speak plainly. It was not only freedom from fascist political institutions, but also freedom from rhetoric.

When Zelenskyy is lauded for his resistance to the Russian invasion, it is because he is demonstrating a number of central virtues – including the courage to remain where he is, in the line of Russian fire. But at least some of this praise, I am convinced, is the result of his style of governance, in which he resists not only authoritarian violence, but the authoritarian style of political presentation – including Putin’s assertions that he is unique in both destiny and in masculine strength.

Read the entire article on The Conversation: “How Zelenskyy emerged as the antithesis of Putin and proved you don’t need to be a strongman to be a great leader.”

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