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Special Message from IIL’s CEO

Thursday, March 3, 2022

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”


We are in uncertain, dangerous, and tumultuous times where we find ourselves witnessing an atrocity being committed by one nation upon another. IIL offers its deepest sympathies and prayers to the innocent people and families affected by this Eastern Europe conflict.

While this tragedy rages on, we here at IIL acknowledge, more than ever, the need to remain connected to our domestic and global partners, affiliates, companies, leaders, and work professionals. These tragic times remind us that effective communication and genuine leadership will inspire people and nations to accomplish incredible objectives. The courageous Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, is a shining example of a leader rising up to the unbelievable challenge and his countrymen (and women) are standing strong.

History needs to be written now with mindful observance and diligent empathy. It’s when things are the darkest and at the point of greatest despair that we find our true strength of character. The true character of Zelensky is one that reminds us how connected we are in triumph and tragedy.

The Forbes article by Edward Segal on March 1st, “As Ukraine Resists Russian Invasion, Zelensky Demonstrates These Leadership Lessons” describes what Segal sees as the eight most important lessons of leadership and how Zelensky aces each of them. They include:

  1. Leadership Comes from Deep Within
  2. “Grit” is Built Through Struggle. There’s No Way Around It
  3. Leaders Can Come From Everywhere
  4. Be Seen
  5. Communicate Effectively
  6. Be Active and Engaged
  7. Authenticity
  8. Lead By Example

You can read Segal’s complete article here.

But of all the lessons we can learn from President Zelensky’s dramatic and inspirational example, I feel the most important one is this: We must never ever give up! We as business leaders have all faced so many crises in the past few years, and it has been leadership and solidarity that has seen us through the tough times. We all need to follow the example of President Zelensky, this fearless leader, and stay in the fight. Do not surrender. Appeal to the sanity and salvation of those who can help. Be Strong. Believe in people. Fight for what is right.

Even though our hearts are broken over what is happening in Ukraine right now we move forward with our scheduled program today, as we must not allow misdeeds to slow our passion for learning and growth. For it is through this passion for learning and growth that perhaps someday such outrageousness as the Ukraine people are suffering may no longer exist anywhere in the world.

Warmest regards,

E. LaVerne Johnson
Founder, President, and CEO
International Institute for Learning
New York City, New York

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