Nothing causes natural-born leaders to rise to our attention quite like a national emergency.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across our nation, each state has been required to step up in new ways. However, some have chosen to step up quicker than others.
It would've been easy for most states to wait for our national leaders to make a move, but several governors have indeed risen to the occasion for their states. These are the governors who have seen the specific needs of their states and have not hesitated to respond.
Initially critiqued as pessimists, these governors paved the way for steps of action, which the majority of the nation has since followed.
Here are four leaders who have displayed exemplary leadership through this pandemic:
1. John Bel Edwards, Governor of Louisiana. With the third-highest number of cases per capita, just behind New York and Washington state, Louisiana has dealt with a fast spread of the virus. Edwards has acted quickly and was one of the first governors to put very severe restrictions and guidelines on the state. As one of the first eight governors to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, Edwards also has worked effectively with Louisiana's legislature while maintaining clear communication with his state.
2. Larry Hogan, Governor of Maryland. After reporting the state's first death, Hogan stated, "This fight against the pandemic is a race against time and we must take action now." As a cancer survivor himself, Hogan doesn't underestimate any threats to human life. In his leadership, Hogan has not delayed taking action but has been known to lead pragmatically in the face of this crisis. Rather than following the prevailing trends of surrounding states, Hogan quickly canceled out-of-state travel for state workers, organized a help-line for the public and has met regularly with his COVID-19 response team.
3. Roy Cooper, Governor of North Carolina. After facing two hurricanes in the past four years, within his first term, Cooper had already been well equipped in crisis management. Cooper has displayed the ability to work alongside his administration and sought to quickly respond to the needs of his state. Just this past Monday, Cooper announced the approval of the new Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program to help families purchase food for children impacted by school closings due to COVID-19. The state is now preparing to reopen safely once, as Cooper says, they see "COVID-19 trends move in the right direction."
4. Mike DeWine, Governor of Ohio. Heavily critiqued for his early response to the virus, now DeWine is considered (as BBC recently reported), "The U.S. governor who saw it coming early." DeWine was one of the first to require health screenings before individual visits at places such as nursing homes and prisons, the first to declare a state-wide school shutdown and was also one of the first to suspend major state events. Just days before U.S. professional leagues chose to cancel their seasons, on March 5, DeWine got a court order to shut down the annual Arnold Sports Festival, which has approximately 60,000 daily spectators and features 20,000 athletes from 80 countries.
Even criticized in his decisive delay of the state's primary, DeWine hasn't let his feathers be ruffled. As all of these governors listed, DeWine has remained confident in his leadership.
At a briefing earlier this month, DeWine stated, "Mistakes that I have made throughout my career have generally been because I didn't have enough facts, I didn't dig deep enough. So, I made up my mind I was going to have the best information, the best data available."
We can often underestimate the amount of precaution and precision that is required in leading through each unique crisis.
Effective and timely leading may not always offer one a large fan base, but requires you to dig deeper, learn from past mistakes and always be one step ahead.
It would be easy to look around us for cues on where to go next. But, as all of these governors have displayed, effective leadership in times of urgency calls for you to determine the best plan for your team to move forward — even when it doesn't make sense to everyone else.
Dr. Kent Ingle serves as the President of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and is the author of "Framework Leadership." A champion of innovative educational design, Ingle is the president of one of the fastest growing private universities in the nation. As president, Ingle founded the American Center for Political Leadership at the university and is also a founding member of the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Before becoming Southeastern's president in 2011, Ingle held leadership positions in higher education and the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Ingle is the author of several leadership books and the creator of the Framework Leadership podcast. He currently serves on the board of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Read Kent Ingle's Reports — More Here.
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