Courtesy of US Department of State

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen as our nation adjusts to a society that has been  reshaped with necessary impositions of social distancing and self-isolation. The turmoil of the pandemic has brought out many challenges for our nation to face, causing much stress for the American people. In these trying times, effective leadership is not only important but vital in order for the U.S. to overcome the virus. 

Many Americans are forced to deal with extreme economic stress and job uncertainty, with the job market suffering a substantial blow while the unemployment rate skyrockets. To make matters worse, this economic and social damage may linger for years to come.

The issues that have come necessitates effective leadership to guide the people. For starters, a strong leader must lead with empathy and optimism in order to maximize trust among their people and minimize stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. When communicating, they must be honest, transparent, consistent and adaptive with their communication in order to be considered a reliable source for information. This is especially pertinent to proper crisis management, which is of extreme importance during this pandemic period. Effective and fluid communication of essential facts, maintaining a steady flow of supplies and medicine and appreciating the efforts of those taking risks to help those in need. 

However, a leader does not need to be perfect to be successful. It is important to remember that those in charge are humans just like the rest of us. Regarding this, we must acknowledge the potential for human errors. In spite of that potential, what separates an effective and ineffective leader is their ability to respond productively to missteps. To a marginal degree, it is acceptable to make mistakes so long as they are acknowledged and rectified. 

Leaders exhibiting these qualities will be better able to ease tensions and will have the necessary resources to succeed in crucial decision making. The time to act with decisive action is right now as the threat rages on. 

With this in mind, some leaders in our nation are doing their best to perform under the immense pressure of the pandemic. These particular individuals have gone to great lengths to navigate through the harsh reality. Others have done the complete opposite. This is pertaining to the two most important mediums for information and changes, politics and the media.

The world of politics garners many particular individuals that tread over the leadership spectrum with varying degrees of effectiveness and influence. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for instance,  took executive action to impose a mandate that 100% of non-essential workers in the state must stay home. Cuomo has shown his effectiveness through his decisiveness as well as through his transparency during numerous press conferences and his willingness to accept criticism and responsibility for the choices he has made.

Whether one likes Cuomo or not, he is putting considerable effort into combatting the virus. This, of course, comes in sharp contrast to the most influential man in modern politics, current U.S. President Donald Trump, whose actions have brought backlash that he refuses to learn from. From his constant missteps when presenting accurate information in his press conferences to the rash and potentially hazardous notion of reopening the country soon, it is unfortunate to see the president of the United States act this way, considering the power and influence he has over people.

The realm of American media also deserves its own spotlight because it is the epicenter usually chosen by the nation’s people to obtain information and seek guidance. A pristine example of impressive leadership came quite early on during the pandemic, by Adam Silver, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Silver, on March 11, made the controversial decision to suspend the professional basketball league’s season until further notice. That same day, the World Health Organization formally designated the coronavirus a pandemic, highlighting the magnitude of the situation. In this regard, it is clear that Silver had his priorities in check and understood his responsibility for the influence and power he has, choosing the health and safety of their viewers over viewership and profits. 

The novel coronavirus has continued to impact the lives of people around the world, but with these adverse times comes the responsibility of our nation’s most influential people to step up and take control of the situation. In a time of crisis, we as a nation will look to leaders for guidance and reassurance, and appreciate those who act with candor.