Clickability tracking pixel

Strong Leader Types Gain Praise in Disasters, but Then...

The latest example is with New York Gov. Cuomo.

by Eric Holdeman / March 4, 2021

If you look at history for people who received rave reviews for their public leadership profile in disasters (and the military), there is a propensity for people to be drawn to the leader who appears strong, forceful and in command of the situation. 

I'll point to three. First is Prime Minister Churchill, who led England throughout World War II. The very existence of the nation was threatened by Nazi Germany. He is widely credited for giving the English people the fortitude to carry on, even during the worst phases of the war, such as the German Blitz. Then, with peace he was unable to keep his job as prime minister.

Then there is Rudy Guiliani, who as the mayor of New York led the city through the worst terrorist attack in history, that being the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. His calm demeanor in the immediate aftermath and his many media appearances reassured people that leadership was in place to lead them through the worst days the city had ever seen. His subsequent behaviors and reputation have been repeatedly tarnished. I also have to say that he was not a popular mayor before the attacks and would have "whimpered out of office" had 9/11 not happened. That event coined him as "America's Mayor!" 

In 2020/21 we have the case of New York Gov. Cuomo. He was widely hailed as being forthright and a strong leader as New York state became the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak here in the United States. His daily briefings and command of the facts and everything being done to counter the disease were watched by millions since these briefings were carried live by multiple cable channels. 

Now almost one year later, he has been accused of making inappropriate remarks to multiple women. How the famous have fallen in our eyes.  

I am not making the case that we should be wary of the strong leader type. Instead, I would like to highlight the fact that effective leadership takes many different faces. One of the most dramatic from World War II was General George Patton and then the man who eclipsed him in rank and was his boss in WWII, that being Omar Bradley. One was brash and forceful, which was his undoing on multiple occasions. The other was quiet but competent, and he inspired confidence in a different way. He never took the reputational tumble that other leaders have taken once the crisis has passed. In the end, he was one of three men given five-star general status following the war. 

Personally, on my career path I had to learn to not emulate someone else, but to be myself and use my God-given talents as best I can to lead. Don't try to be someone you are not. Be you and you have a better chance at success, hopefully avoiding disgrace along the way. 

E.REPUBLIC Platforms & Programs