Like just about everyone, I've spent the past few days staring in horror at the TV, watching Russia's barbaric invasion of Ukraine and the incredible courage of the Ukrainian response. (Some places to donate to support Ukraine here). 

And just like the rest of the world, I've been floored in particular by the mettle of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian turned politician who, when asked if he'd like to be evacuated in the face of Russian threats on his life, famously responded, "I need ammo, not a ride."

This is clearly courage beyond what the vast majority of us could muster. But according to star Wharton professor Adam Grant, that doesn't mean those called to more everyday forms of leadership can't learn at least one important lesson from watching Zelensky. 

What makes a great leader depends on context. 

"The internet is ablaze with opinions about what makes him such an effective leader in his own country. The popular story starts with the inner virtues of a great man: Zelensky is being profiled for his charisma and courage and compared to George Washington. Then it turns to the crucible, highlighting how crisis fractures weak leaders and forges strong leaders: Zelensky is being called a lion who found his roar," Grant writes on his blog. 

All of this praise may be well earned, but it misses an essential point. What makes leaders great isn't just their internal characteristics, but their ability to understand and reflect the values and identity of those they lead. 

"Psychologists find that we're drawn to leaders who represent our group. The people we elevate into positions of authority aren't typical members of our group--they're prototypical members of our group. They're the people we see as exemplifying the ideals of the group and acting in the best interests of the group," Grant explains. 

Gandhi, he notes, exemplified the Indian value of asceticism. New Zealand's Jacinda Arden, mourning victims of a mosque shooting in a hijab, mirrored her society's embrace of inclusivity. "The prototypical Ukrainian is a fighter," Grant observes (and the whole world now agrees). It's undeniable that Zelensky embodies that ideal. 

It all starts with empathy and service. 

Leaders don't become icons just by being the best versions of themselves. They also need to enact the aspirations of those they lead. That requires empathy and humility.  

This ability to understand and embody the values of your team is something everyday leaders can learn from Zelensky. "Charisma attracts attention. Courage earns admiration. But commitment to a group is what inspires loyalty. We follow the leaders who fight for us--and we make sacrifices for the leaders who serve us," Grant concludes. 

We all pray that few of us will need to emulate the physical courage of Zelensky and so many of his fellow Ukrainians. But we can be inspired by their relentless commitment to one another. Part of what makes Zelensky great is that he knows what his people need and is trying to give it to them against incredible odds. That focus on others over fear or ego is an example to leaders of all stripes everywhere.