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Cuomo & corona (leadership skills)

Anyone who has been watching Grey’s Anatomy diligently, has seen this fantastic scene when Miranda Bailey, getting fed up with the lack of leadership of her interns, puts them all on a severe case that just got in, closes the door, locks it and watches from the outside with Richard Weber which one of the interns is going to emerge as a Leader. It takes a little time and then Jackson Avery emerges. Miranda Bailey looks at Richard Weber and they know they have got themselves a leader.

Although I do like history and politics, this article is certainly not about political ideas or any bi-partisan discussion. This article is about Leadership. I do believe that many New Yorkers (State) are witnessing their Governor emerge as the Leader they need in those troubled times. I personally wish we had an Andrew Cuomo here in Europe.

On the 20th of March 2020, I followed his press conference in Albany; first time I was hearing him. I was blown away for a lack of a better word to express my emotion.


#1. CALM: His tone of voice is soothing, reassuring. The tempo is steady, the tone is firm, the rhythm is non-monocorde and the message conveyed is action oriented. It sends the message: I am taking charge, we are going to get through this but without having to say it explicitly.

#2. AUTHENTICITY: He is honnest about where he stands, politically but also emotionally and about where the State stands. He shows up without pretending or making false promises. Totally grounded.

#3. TRANSPARENCY on what the situation is, but also what the purpose of his strategy is and with simple, yet precise, words making it easy to understand.

#4. EXEMPLARITY: Just look at the distance between the people on the panel.

#5. EMPATHY: It is not enough to feel empathy. In Leadership you need to be able to express it, making the implicit explicit and he does so, brilliantly, on different topics: what I do will affect you and what you do will affect me, talk about community and interconnection and interdependence, we need everyone to be safe otherwise no-one can be safe. He shares how he understands how some people might feel in the light of the measures.

#6. SINCERITY: I guess I could link this with authenticity, still I feel it deserves a point on its own. No pretending, no bs. « when you are young you think you are invincible, yeah, you are wrong! »

#7.VULNERABILITY: He talks about himself, his family and shows where his mindset is stemming from. He talks about his mother and you understand why he is able to put himself in the shoes of vulnerable population and their families.

#8. PRAGMATIC: Other than speaking about facts, he shares recommendations in a very relatable way, with simple words, without entering in an irresponsible oversimplification. (yes you see where my mind is going here). « you can’t play basket ball and stay six feet from each other, well you can but you would lose »

#9. REALISTIC about the situation and the actions to be taken. His information is clearly well informed (hand sanitiser, yes young people can get it look at France, you can give it to your parent, grand parent and put the life of someone else in danger …). He sees things as they are, not better, not worseThis is science and maths he says in his the Q&A.

#10. EMPOWERING: Everybody has a responsibility towards everyone else even within each other’s liberty and he wants to hold people accountable for that, giving an opportunity for people to actually show up as responsible people. He addresses himself in this press conference to responsible adults. Enforcement will be used if needed but you hear it only towards the end.

#11. VISIONARY: He explains his strategy to tackle the virus. He shows history to explain why he moves forward the way he does and uses the lessons of the past towards his vision: getting rid of the virus while preserving healthcare capacity and limit the number of deaths of dear ones.

#12. RESPONSIBILITY: He takes full responsibility for his decisions, no-one else to blame if someone is unhappy about these measures. « I believe these policies will save lives and I am not willing to put a price on human life« .

#13. EXPERIENCE: He has managed emergencies in the past and has his motto « prepare for the worse and hope for the best« . (or was it from Disraeli?)

#14. HUMILITY: When we look back I want to be able to say I did everything we could do. This is about saving lives and if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy. Which also shows the value he puts on life itself.

#15. AWARENESS: again thanks to his experience and empathy he is able to talk about mental health and isolation and tells us how he took this as an opportunity with his daughter. He shares how this is an opportunity to be vulnerable in our relationships and create deeper, more meaningful relationships.

#16. PROTECTIVE: I want to protect the people of New York … Consistently you hear him say « I undertsand » and you feel he really does because his way of speaking is authentic.

#17. CLARITY: Throughout his speech he explains, makes measures clearly understandable to avoid all misinterpretations. His words are cautiously chosen to avoid all sort of panic. Towards the end you hear him say: « words matter« .

You leave this press conference with a feeling of: he’s got this at the best of his abilities, these will be tough times, I have to play my role, we will get through this, I see where we are heading at. You feel empowered.

Now, this my friends is Leadership with High Emotional Intelligence and it is exactly what our World needs right now. So, thank you Governor Cuomo, may the force be with you, with New Yorkers and with all the rest of us around the world.

So, how can you step up and be a Leader in your own life right now?

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