A society drowning in anxiety calls for a leader who takes action but who also has soul.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gets that. We need more leaders who do.
“A crisis shows you a person’s soul,” Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters earlier this month as the coronavirus began its surge in his state.
“It shows you what they’re made of,” Cuomo said. “The weaknesses explode and the strengths are emboldened.”
I completely agree. To lead now, as the numbers of cases and deaths from Covid-19 blow up around the world, requires an unwavering discipline to deliver the best of who you are.
In my work advising executives, and in my book Winning From Within, I teach about the inner path of leadership. Effective leaders tap into that wisdom.
What does that mean?
The Inner Path of Leadership
Training for future leadership begins with acquiring concrete business knowledge on such things as finance, strategy, human resources and marketing. It also involves gaining skills such as project management, teamwork and how to leverage technology.
Most business leaders eventually possess that basic knowledge and those skills. Yet few of them can lead effectively in a crisis.
The leaders who rise to the challenge understand their own inner clockworks — what makes them tick and what sets them off. They know themselves well enough to keep their ego and emotions in check as they keep focus on the highest priorities.
One client who leads a European tech firm in a note to me this week said, “If you panic or get overly anxious, albeit a natural reaction to the situation, you run the risk of getting passive. But there is a lot we can and must do to help.”
As I talk with the CEOs who must now navigate these uncharted waters, it’s clear who has looked beneath the surface and asked themselves deeper questions. Who am I? Why am I here? What am I meant to do?
These leaders long ago abandoned status and wealth as measures of success. Instead, they feel called to use their incredible talent and experience for the common good. CEOs who have yet to make this inner transformation would be wise to take a cue from Cuomo.
Cuomo’s Grasp of the Inner Path
Cuomo goes beyond managing his strengths and weaknesses. He seeks to inspire his whole state to perform at a higher level. In a recent press conference he directly called people to get beyond petty annoyances.
“Let’s find our better selves,” he said. “Let New Yorkers lead the way in finding their better selves and demonstrating their better selves.”
Cuomo works around the clock to gather new information, make tough decisions, and take action. Then he speaks to New Yorkers from the depth of his soul.
“Practice humanity” he told people at a news conference. “We don’t talk about practicing humanity. But if ever there’s a time to practice humanity, the time is now.”
This is clarity of purpose. This is personal mission. This is the powerful, soulful leadership the world needs now.