Leadership Development

Leadership Lessons from the Ukrainian Battlefield


Felix Global is committed to helping businesses across the globe recruit and develop the best leaders to bring their companies into the future. We proudly learn from our years of experience in the industry but also lean on real-world examples of where leadership makes its mark.

Recently, Shields Meneley, a part of Felix Global, hosted a networking event titled “Leadership Lessons from the Ukrainian Battlefield”. Led by special guests Sergiy Nozdrachov and Nick Latushkin, two respected and accomplished professionals working in strengths-based leadership based in Ukraine, the team at Shields Meneley got an inspiring and insightful look into how the war in Ukraine has brought out the best in its leaders and how those leadership skills serve as a great lesson to leaders in all capacities. 

Specifically, Sergiy and Nick discuss how Ukraine’s leaders' demonstration of three key skills has energized, emboldened and strengthened the resolve of their brave people to fight against Russia’s attempts to overthrow Ukraine’s government, its people, and its democratic independence. 

Below you will find a brief summary of each of the three key traits discussed by Sergiy and Nick as well as the corresponding time stamp from the session where they go into each of the traits in-depth. 

You can view the networking event in its entirety here.

1. Having an Ownership Mentality (31:00 - 37:26)

Nick describes a leader with an “ownership mentality” as a person who owns both the situation as well as the vision of where the situation should develop. They do not rely on chance to dictate the outcome of a situation; rather, they exercise control where they can to create the desired outcome. 

Nick describes an example of a man named Kim who was appointed to lead the military operation in the small Ukrainian town of Mykolaiv as the Russians invaded. With no air defence system, Kim appealed to the ingenuity and commitment of the townspeople to assist in defending the town through a series of humorous videos. 

Kim became popular amongst Mykolaiv’s citizens for his comical video updates where he would take it upon himself to reach out to locals and request assistance with a particular defence tactic, giving direction and ideas to the townspeople, who were free to be creative and execute on the request as they saw fit. Interestingly, the people themselves also demonstrated their own ownership mentality, committing themselves to successfully taking control and getting the job done in creative ways.

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2. A Commitment to Purpose & Playing to Your Strengths (37:26 - 41:52)

The next key leadership trait that has served Ukraine well (and that is a useful lesson to all leaders) is a commitment to purpose and playing to one's strengths. Nick discusses that in order for a leader to be worth following, they need to clearly show an unwavering commitment to their purpose along with the willingness to do whatever is necessary to achieve it. 

He highlights that Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has clearly demonstrated this trait throughout the war. From the beginning, Zelenskyy committed to staying in Kyiv to fight the Russians, regardless of the threats to his safety. Nick explains that this allowed him to lead as his true self, not concerned with the interests of others that don’t serve his goal.

Unfettered by the expectations of others and with only his goal in mind, he is able to play to his individual strengths, which include his ability to reach into the hearts of others to ask for help and support while speaking to them in ways they can understand and connect with.

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3. Be a Hope Generator (42:33 - 46:43)

In order to transform people’s uncertainty into confidence, leaders need to treat them with care and offer unwavering support. As Sergiy discusses, successful leaders accomplish this by generating hope amongst their followers. But it’s a tough and tricky balance. You have to inspire hope and establish trust while not hiding the reality of the situation. 

Sergiy gives the example of Oleksiy Arestovych, a Leftenant Colonel with the Ukrainian military who is an excellent hope generator. Leaders like Oleksiy are successful hope generators because they exhibit two important communication skills: (1) they communicate frequently, and (2) they communicate with a sense of humanity.  

As Sergiy correctly points out, to generate confidence and hope, we should communicate heart to heart, not just head to head.  

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Both Sergiy and Nick accurately highlight what has been so inspiring to the rest of the world watching the leaders and people of Ukraine battle against the Russian offensive: to be a successful leader, you have to lead with a human touch – that is what these three aforementioned qualities have in common, whether it be through humour, honesty, or raw emotion. It is also clear that the best leaders amongst us are those who lead with love rather than fear. 

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