The Lead: Comedian Wins Ukraine Election, French Billionaires to restore Notre Dame, and E-Commerce in Africa

Comedian Wins Ukraine Election

Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky won Ukraine’s presidential election. Previously, Mr. Zelensky was best known for his role starring in a satirical television series Servant of the People, where his character accidentally becomes Ukrainian president. Now he will need to face complex issues and serious policy discussions that he was able to side-step during the campaign with light-hearted videos posted to social media.

Our View: Though the success of Mr. Zelensky’s presidency is unforeseen, his comedic background may give him a leadership advantage. Not only does every leader benefit from a sense of humor, it has been reported that funnier people are better leaders. Research shows that leaders with humor can initiate more creativity, build more resilient cultures, and even negotiate better deals through increased social bonding and trust. Further Reading

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French Billionaires Pledge Donations to Restore the Notre Dame

A fire broke out at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France last week on Monday, April 15th. The damages will be costly to repair, but France’s leading billionaires and companies have already pledged $670 million (€600 million) to restore the iconic cathedral.

Our View: Just as businesses need good leaders to thrive, historic landmarks need preservation leaders and advocates. These leaders work to stay current with policy changes and threats facing historical and cultural resources. They need to be solid communicators to articulate how historic preservation strengthens the economy in order to influence laws at the federal, state, and local levels. In the face of a monumental leadership moment, these donors stepped up to the plate. Further Reading

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Africa’s E-Commerce

Jumia Technologies is being nicknamed the Amazon of Africa, and the e-commerce company now has four million active consumers across 14 African nations in six separate regions across the continent. Without any direct competitor, Jumia is gaining the lead on an unaddressed, exciting market opportunity. (More than half of global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa, according to data from the UN.)

Our View: The “first mover advantage” may be a misnomer because it doesn’t acknowledge that there are also potential drawbacks of being first. The first mover advantage refers to an advantage a company has when they are first to introduce a product or service to the market, allowing them to establish strong brand recognition and product/service loyalty before other entrants. However, being the first mover does not always guarantee an advantage. Later entrants have the advantage of learning from the first mover’s mistakes and can take advantage of identifying areas ripe for improvement. Further Reading

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Electric Bus Business

The fledging electric bus business may get its “wings” from rooftop solar. Electric buses still make up less than 0.1 percent of America’s public transportation fleet, but this may be changing soon as the electric-bus maker Proterra Inc. is partnering with Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. to lease batteries to public transportation agencies through a $200 million, first-of-its-kind credit facility that will support the delivery of 1,000 electric buses. The plan is to lower the upfront costs of zero-emission buses to compete with diesel buses.

Our View: Innovation is a key driver of success, and organizations need leaders who use their influence to encourage innovation. Many leaders know they need to encourage a culture of innovation, but it’s difficult to put that into practice especially while managing day-to-day business activities. It’s in these times that leaders rise to the occasion of facing a ‘leadership moment’. The best leaders strike a balance between current business operations with the seemingly endless sea of new possibilities. Further Reading

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Meaningful Jump in Micromobility

According to a National Association of City Transportation Officials report, shared micromobility trips more than doubled in 2018 from the previous calendar year. Shared bicycles or e-scooters are considered shared micromobility, and the increase in their popularity is changing the transportation landscape. Corinne Kisner, NACTO executive director, said, “Cities are proactively thinking about how to harness the incredible potential of these shared services in the public right-of-way. As stewards of the public realm, it is vital that cities retain authority over their streets. State legislators must ensure that cities have the ability to plan, regulate, and manage shared micromobility systems for safe, sustainable, and equitable outcomes.”

Our View: The field of leadership has a lot in common with the sharing economy. Both concepts deal with teamwork and trust. When leaders share information and trust their team to share as well, people realize that the hierarchical organizational structures of the past are not what gets things done in the present. Further Reading

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