Years ago, I worked for a company that had its headquarters in a state-owned building. One day, while I was visiting there, I saw the Governor of the great State of New York. Apparently, he had an office there. He looked pleasant, rushed, focused, and deliberate. He had pulled up in a Dodge Charger and an identical vehicle escort. I thought, how cool is that?! No limo or fanfare. I’m not proud to say this by me and quite a few onlookers jeered him. We shouted, Good day Governor!” with British accents. He nodded his head and smiled. I’m sure he’s tired of that line. It was just a few moments and he was inside the building. I thought of him as my governor and a politician, that’s it. Well, I thought he had a “wall street” kind of disposition. A mover and shaker type but I never thought of him as my “leader.”
Flash forward to 2020 and boy have times changed. Governor Cuomo, in a crisis, has the kind of leadership presence that commands attention. His press conferences are must watch events. He brings calm and reason to this catastrophic situation. If you watched any of the governors’ press conference’s you got the impression that his message, while reporting on Corona, was bigger than Corona. Naturally, the person delivering the message was bigger than corona as well. In times of crisis people will either follow their leader or follow their problems.
Sure, the information shared with us is important, but his delivery and the timing prevented wide-spread panic. He brought a respectful human element to an inhumane tragedy. He didn’t try to be a leader for the sake of leading. He did appear to be his authentic self. And when the news was bad, he said as much. When there was something for us to do, he made that clear too. He didn’t sugar coat bad news or shank us with it. He used a balance of metrics, empathy, presence, determination, and respect. This man is leading the living, the dying, and the dead in a state that is ravaged by an organism that only seeks to produce itself. See that, if you’re only objective is to produce yourself, you’re a virus. A leader must produce what the people need. as of this writing, New Yorkers haven’t received an anti-viral vaccination for the Corona virus, but we did get an anti-viral mindset from the governor.
At the conclusion of this crisis, I’d like the governor to do a press conference that includes an After-Action-Review. This way, we can talk about what was learned, and how we can avoid this in the future. I hope his words at that time won’t fall on deaf ears as we move to yet another “new norm”