Written by: Victoria H Trabosh Executive Coach LLC – all rights reserved
Article originally posted on Linkedin
Just when we believe we cannot handle the changes ahead and are alone in the dark, the lights go on and we find ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with others we did not expect to see. Your leadership matters and those with whom you surround yourself matter as well.
First, we must take care of our health and families and prepare to change the way we do business for the next few months, at least. This time can be a time to think about leadership. Who is leading you? And whom you are leading? It is not enough to say you are overwhelmed and afraid.
Yes: you, I, we are. Now what? Consider how you lead from the top.
Governor Cuomo’s communication and leadership have been on display nationally. His message, his method, and his motivation is evident to all whether or not they are aware of what they are witnessing. Consider this framework of G.I.R.A.F.F.E.© in what he is doing as he leads New York through COVID-19, and what you can do with your responsibilities.
Governor Cuomo displays the following character qualities through his leadership and the way he communicates in his daily press conferences:
Grounded Intentionally operates from integrity. Executes on the plan while overcoming obstacles.
Operating from integrity requires you to tell the truth, regardless of its reflection on your leadership. Then when you ask more of others, they will trust you.
When Governor Cuomo started his daily press briefing amid the growing coronavirus, they became must-see T.V. for many. Many who were starved for facts, not hyperbole. His style is energetic, effectively funny, personal, moving, factual, at times pointed, and logical. He has become a national leader whose role was to take care of the state of New York but found his way to a national stage. His groundedness leads him to exhibit the other qualities of G.I.R.A.F.F.E.
Invested In People | In Profitability | In Strategy
In Cuomo’s comments on March 17, 2020, he spoke not only of the needs of New Yorkers but of surrounding states (the Tri-State Strategy). “As the facts change, our strategy changes.” All of the strategies he discussed in this press conference he spoke first to the needs of the people, the effect on businesses and their profits, and the more important, strategy. He is less interested in being popular than doing the right things right. When he spoke about the closures that were beginning at that time, he said, “If you are upset about what we have done in N.Y., be mad at me. Your mayor or village didn’t make these rules, I did. We will manage consequences afterwards!”
Radical Never wastes a crisis. Shows leadership when others might hesitate. Believe in the goal despite present circumstances.
The national response at the highest levels has been uneven and criticized. Governor Cuomo and Governor Newsom of California’s leadership has been praised. In an article in the L.A. Times, Peter Ragone, a Democratic strategist who has advised both of them said, “In the absence of federal leadership, you have two incredibly talented governors who have stepped into the void, who are managing the brunt of the crisis for the country at the moment. Their actions have been incredibly consequential, not just for their states but also for the United States of America.”
Accountable To stakeholders…goals…him/herself.
You cannot lead others if you cannot lead yourself. Governor Cuomo’s daily press briefings require him to speak of the facts at the moment and change what was not working or is no longer critical. When you communicate often and effectively, your team and those you serve will move with you. Accountability requires ownership and responsibility.
He often is caught praising and thanking others. Accountability is rewarded with respect. In a tweet @NYGovCuomo to his 1.5 million followers said, “New York is fighting a war against this virus, and we need all the help we can get. On behalf of the family of New York, I’m deeply grateful to:
–@BollandBranch for hospital mattresses
–@Restore_Global for coveralls
When we are accountable, we give credit and appreciate the leadership of others.
Fearless Acting, despite your fear, is true bravery.
It may be more comfortable for a leader to act when fears are less personal, but more about the collective. But when fear hits home, who will you be? Will you hide what you need or share your emotions with others. When you do, others know you understand them and their fears. During the press conference on April 1, 2020, Governor Cuomo spoke about the news of finding out his brother, CNN’s Chris Cuomo, had been diagnosed with coronavirus. “When he told me he had the coronavirus, it scared me,” the New York governor said Wednesday. “It frightened me. Why? Because we still don’t know… And I deal with all sorts of stuff, and I’ve seen all sorts of things… Why? Because we’re talking about my brother. This is my best friend. I talk to him several times a day, basically spent my whole life with him. It is frightening on a fundamental level … because there is nothing I can do. And this situation is the same for everyone.. So yes, I’m frightened for my brother; I’m worried for my brother.” Vulnerability as a leader is not a weakness; it is an honest assessment of your emotions, feelings, and what is distracting you in the moments. Teams are more likely to rally around a leader who is struggling like them than one who shows no fear.
Factual Operates from a place of reality, not fantasy. Builds the biggest dreams from a strategy.
When the Governor speaks of loss, he first displays empathy, and while acknowledging the reality, he also reminds us to have hope. In his interview with Michael Barbaro on March 18, 2020, he spoke of the reality then. If you read the entire transcript, you will notice while circumstances have changed in two short weeks, he continues to be grounded in reality. “I would say first; I hope no one in your family, or no one you know, dies because of this. Because that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. I hope no one in your family dies. Second, we all understand the economic consequences. It’s not just you; it is everyone. And by the way, take solace in that fact. Because maybe if it was just you, you could be forgotten and left on the side of the road. It’s not just you. It’s everyone, and it’s everywhere. The Italians have an old saying that the rich man is the man who has health, right? If you have your health, you can figure anything else out. And it’s true. We’ll figure out the economy. I went through 9/11. Oh, downtown Manhattan is devastated, we have to rebuild, how do we do this? We’re alive, first of all. And if we are alive, we’ll figure out the rest. We’ll figure out the money. It’s making sure we live through this.”
Effective Believes and knows behavior matters.
What is repeated over and over about the Governor is his behavior is consistent. Those who serve with him and those whom he serves depend on his consistency. He stated to the National Guard in his remarks on March 27, 2020, “Every time I’ve called out the National Guard I have said the same thing to you: I promise you I will not ask you to do anything that I will not do myself. And the same is true here. We’re going to do this and we’re going to do this together”.
Becoming aware of what leadership means to you will allow you to turn today’s reality into lasting transformation. If COVID-19 can have any beneficial effect, one of the outcomes can be to change your leadership to make you more resilient.
Stay well, take care of those you love and serve, and know we are better together than apart.