What Jenny-May Clarkson can teach us about authentic leadership.

Of Ngāti Maniapoto descent, Pio Pio raised Jenny-May Clarkson (nee Coffin) is a regular face on our tele’s every weekday morning. One of many elite athletes to come from the King Country, Jenny-May has excelled in all she has set herself. More recently, and in particular during the Covid 19 lockdown, she has shown the nation once again the depth of her leadership.

She has a type of leadership that teaches us how to be more human; how to embrace our flaws, to speak from the heart and to connect with others deeply.

I was brought up in the days of Dougal Stevenson, Tom Bradley and Jenny Goodwin as news reporters. Known for their BBC-trained diction, and unfaltering lack of emotion when reading about events such as the Erebus disaster, or Tangiwai, they were what we then thought a professional newsreader should be.

Turn the clock forward 40 odd years and emotions such as humour, empathy, joy, and sadness are being shown from our news readers.

Jenny-May’s approach to news reading has shown that we can be both professional and authentic.

Her cheeky humour has seen her in fits of laughter on different occasions.

She is also known to show deep emotion, to speak from the heart and to show deep empathy towards her fellow human. During the lockdown, her end of coverage kōrero was something people awaited. Steeped in her Maoritanga, she was able to pull-together things we were collectively feeling and put meaning and purpose behind them.

There have also been times when emotion has come to the fore, when she has shed a tear, shared something personal in a purposeful way, and shown us that she is bringing her truly authentic, whole self to her mahi.

One such moment was when Jenny-May shared the story behind her own and her siblings names. This was a deeply personal story, but one that was shared at a time that we desperately needed to hear as a nation. 

Another moment was when she fought-back tears as she acknowledged the tragic loss of fellow newsreader  and friend Hayley Holt’s unborn baby. 

Authentic leadership is not about spilling your guts to everyone and anyone; that just leaves people feeling uncomfortable. It is however, about bringing the best of You to the table. It is about whole-hearted leadership and presence. It’s about laughing whole-heartedly, acknowledging your emotions, calling yourself on your own s#*t, and leaning more and more into the best of You.

? What does authentic leadership mean to you?

? Where are you armouring-up in your leadership?

? How might shame be stopping you from bringing the best of You to your mahi?


I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

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Give me a stage and I’ll own it. Give me a room and I’ll energise it. Give me your people and I’ll inform and inspire them. 

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