Croatia President Grabar-Kitarović: An Invaluable Lesson on Leadership from the World Cup.

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Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović Grabar-Kitarović is a well-rounded and good spirited woman. A woman of impeccable values, she is as intelligent, collected and down to earth as she is an eye popper.
Her affectionate and touching display of patriotism in a most admirably simplistic manner in support of the Croatian team at the just concluded World Cup Soccer Tournament in Russia set a shining example for leaders around the world.
During the final match between France and Croatia, She shone like a million stars and in spite of the fact that France won the game, Croatia left an indelible print in the history of the tournament as well as in the minds of soccer bums the world over.
Intrigued by such wanton display of enthusiastic patriotism, I had to do a bit more research on the lady, to ascertain what feeds her awesome display of exemplary leadership. The late South African president Nelson Mandela was an advocate of this kind of leadership as one his quotes attests here;
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur,”
“You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
Croatia has never advanced to a world cup final before and the team, led by Captain Luka Modric, were national heroes, winning every single match from the first whistle of the referee to the end of the tournament when they gallantly lost to a more world cup experienced team.
Throughout the game, Grabar-Kitarović was mostly on her feet cheering in support of the national team squad from the stands with fellow Croatia fans dressed in a red-and-white team jersey.
After the deeply disappointing defeat, Grabar-Kitarović was still visible and supportive as when they were on a winning streak, consoling an understandably shattered modric, who carted home the Golden Ball, for the tournament’s most valuable player, with a warm embrace that was perhaps almost as good as the cup itself.
Even when the rains began to pour during the final award ceremony, and umbrellas of every size and shape sprung up above the heads many bigwigs, Grabar-Kitarović stood in the rain to shake the hand of every player on both teams, which was the highpoint of such display of infectious leadership.
I wager the Croatian number one citizen may not have trod the rug on the VIP stand were it not for the invitation of the Russian president after the final match as she watched every single one of her team’s appearances from the stands with fellow Croatia fans.
Her patriotic fervor and positive presence has in profound ways proven her as a model in leadership, one worthy of emulation and left many bright colors on the album of the world cup for Croatia, the loss nonetheless.
It might seem an insignificant thing for a leader to cheer a team to victory or console a losing soccer team as most leaders would prefer to cut the too-busy- and-committed- to gritty- issues impression, to display such a stance, likely to be considered folly or unaffordable luxury. However a true and committed leader holds as important and never loses sight of the considered smaller things amidst the big; a salient relation to holistic development and well-being that eludes most leaders.
According to analytics Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović “emerged as her country’s star of the tournament” with “25% more focus on her in news stories about the final than any of the players on the pitch”, as she “travelled to Russia at her own expense in economy class and often watched from the non-VIP stands”
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is a politician and diplomat, the 4th President of Croatia since 2015 and the first woman to be elected to the office since the first multi-party elections in 1990. At 46 years of age, she is also the youngest person to become the country’s president.
Before her election as President of Croatia, Grabar-Kitarović held a number of governmental and diplomatic positions. A former Fulbright scholar, ambassador to the US, and assistant secretary to NATO, Grabar-Kitarović is leading an emerging eastern European economy at a tremendously precarious time for the postwar global order, and only a few decades removed from the region’s bloody civil war.
-Manny Ita

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