Chris Cuomo Is Also Teaching Us About Leadership

Corona Courage

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My daughter, Madi, and I take great comfort in knowing that we can rely on the Cuomo brothers to keep us informed in these unsettling times. Each day, we tune into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s must-see Corona briefings in the morning; and, in the evening, we check in with Chris Cuomo’s can’t-miss prime time show on CNN. Their humorous brotherly banter also provides some much-appreciated levity in the midst of otherwise grim reality. 

Governor Cuomo has become our Corona virus expert and soulful moral compass. He empowers us with facts and provides us with perspective. He delivers the realities of this pandemic with transparency, urgency and compassion. His leadership has taken hold and is widely admired. 

For his part, Chris shares similar qualities and is also teaching us about leadership from his journalistic platform. Like his brother, he brings both head and heart, competence and care, to his work. It’s leadership that’s getting results.

Although it’s steeped in facts, Chris’ cable show is considered opinion journalism. He uses his platform for the greater good — to educate and save lives during the Corona virus outbreak. Chris’ leadership is a combination of edgy advocacy and human interest. He challenges the bureaucracy and holds those in power accountable. He blends journalism with public service, facts with raw and real-life implications. One of the key aspects of leadership is the ability to have followers; in Chris’ case, we don’t have to listen, but we want to — we want to hear his perspective, his opinion, and, as proof of his influence, his ratings have doubled in the last month. 

Chris is likeable, and he makes it personal; and, even though he’s infected with the Corona virus, he shows no self-pity. Instead, he’s bravely sharing his personal journey with the virus — or “the beast” as some have called it — in order to educate us and take some of the unknown out of this heartbreaking virus. Quarantined in his basement, he continued to broadcast while struggling with a red-hot fever, tooth-breaking chills and deeply disturbing hallucinations. We are rooting for him.

Other perspectives matter to Chris. He taps into our humanity by shining a spotlight on the real stories and real heroes of this pandemic — the nurses, doctors, EMT workers and grocery store clerks. Recently, he interviewed Carley Rice, a young front-line ICU nurse from Georgia who has already seen a host of her Corona patients die without family by their side. Chris thanked her “for being one of the angels among us.” Human interest reporting like this reminds us that every loss in the current pandemic is someone’s child, spouse, parent or friend. 

Most of us don’t think feelings are part of — or even the key to — leadership success. But they are. It may seem counterintuitive, yet the new model of leadership is about seeing love, care, compassion and empathy as a strength. Never before has this approach to leadership been so necessary.  

Chris demonstrates this so effortlessly and authentically. He’s not afraid to say, “I love you.” He’s now much more than a high-visibility media star; indeed, his truth-telling, vulnerability and humanity is making a real difference in the way we see leadership — and not just in times of crisis.  

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