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Like many of my fellow Ohioans, I have developed a great admiration for our governor and medical director while witnessing them navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Observing them over the past month (wearing my executive coach hat) I’ve wondered what is it that we’ve all found so compelling about the way Mike DeWine and Amy Acton show up as leaders?

What have they done, specifically, to build such high levels of trust and admiration?  

I think it comes down to courage and compassion, in equal parts. They have shown up, in daily briefings, with humility and concern, putting ego aside and people first. They clarified the unclear. They have made decisions and taken actions that, while at first seemed extreme, now are considered wise beyond measure. Some of those decisions weren’t popular. They took guts.  

In What Good Leadership Looks Like During This Pandemic,” published just over a week ago in Harvard Business Review, authors Michaela J. Kerrissey and Amy C. Edmondson underscored the power of empathy. “Leadership in an uncertain, fast-moving crisis means making oneself available to feel what it is like to be in another’s shoes — to lead with empathy. It will be incumbent on leaders to put themselves in another’s suffering, to feel with empathy and think with intelligence, and then to use their position of authority to make a path forward for us all. Crises of historical proportion can make for leaders of historical distinction, but that is far from guaranteed.”

Call it what you will — self-awareness, emotional intelligence, or authenticity — the bottom line is this. Long after the crisis has ended, and COVID-19 is behind us, the impact that DeWine and Acton have made will be an example of leadership at its finest. A master class in influence. A case study in character. All of us are beneficiaries of their courage and compassion.

If you are motivated to “level up” your leadership capacity, or know someone who could benefit from executive coaching, contact me at

All the best,

Eden Sulzer

Crosworks | Career & Leadership Strategist
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