Leadership Series Edition 4: Leading Through Change

In the fourth release of the Isentia Leadership Series, we examine how the events of 2020 impacted our view on leadership.

By comparing media narrative, public opinion and case studies across Australia and New Zealand, we look at how our expectations on leaders (business, political and community) have changed, how leaders were portrayed in the media and the role that Press Conferences played throughout the year.

Enter your details to receive the full report, together with Edition 1, 2, and 3 of the Leadership Series.

About the Leadership Series

2020 was a year of change. A global pandemic created a shared experience across nations, industries and territories, and as we all scrambled to adjust to a new “normal”, different styles of leadership were on display for the world to evaluate.

Isentia began researching the role of media in leadership in 2018, and have so far examined the role of social media for corporate CEOs, the rise of the disruptive celebrity leader, and the expectation of leaders in crisis.


  • CHAPTER 1: Why change?
  • CHAPTER 2: Sapient leadership
  • CHAPTER 3: Leadership in media
  • CHAPTER 4: Leadership and the public view
  • CHAPTER 5: Case Study – Daniel Andrews
  • CHAPTER 6: Case Study: Dr. Ashley Bloomfield
  • CHAPTER 7: The year of the Press Conference
  • CHAPTER 8: The view from the other side
  • CHAPTER 9: Conclusion
  • CHAPTER 10: Methodology

Performance of transparency

Throughout 2020, the press conference played a significant role both in communicating information on a broad scale and in providing regular reassurance at a time of uncertainty. Journalists in a press conference were reduced to being faceless, and in some cases nameless, figures shouting questions, often repeated if the answer doesn’t meet expectations. While the press conference format may suggest to the public there is present and accountable communication, the reality for journalists trying to gather information is markedly different. Do we need to keep authenticity top of mind when communicating?

Case study: Daniel Andrews, State Premier, Victoria, Australia

While many leaders fall into clear categories of either good or bad, some are harder to define. Many questions can be raised about Daniel Andrews’s leadership through COVID, the wisdom of his policies, and whether or not he was honest in his approach and delivery. However, based on the views of those he leads, Andrews achieved success through a period of unprecedented crisis and change. Yet, the media were representing a different narrative.  


Case Study: Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director General of Health, NZ

Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the Director-General of Health for New Zealand, became a household name in New Zealand through 2020, as the face of the government health response to COVID-19. He wasn’t positioned as a leader, yet a subject matter expert and supporting player to the response of the Prime Minister and Cabinet during a period of change. His ability to communicate complex information, change adeptly, while maintaining authenticity and humanity was a leadership style that captured the hearts of New Zealanders. Positioning him as a good leader.

Leadership and communications

Leadership and communications go hand in hand. COVID resulted in significant change at a rapid pace, and the most effective way through it was open and honest communication.

As we begin to adapt to a new environment, there are four key themes to consider:

  • Changing expectations – is there a shift in expectations of honesty and good communication over ‘command and control?’
  • Transparency performance – are forms of communication from leaders losing authenticity?
  • Trust – although they’re complex, is our trust in institutions, leaders and media in decline?
  • Absence – have our expectations on visibility and the ethical role of leaders and organisations changed?


Download your copy of the Leadership Series Editon 4: Leading through Change