I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou


Love and fear are the most powerful forces in the Universe. During fear filled COVID-19, human love is flowing in all directions in the business world.  A CEO of a large construction company shared in forum this week–

“I can’t believe the messages of care and concern I have received from so many staff. It’s no longer lonely at the top! And I can’t believe how much nicer I am being to people. I am finding myself thanking the workers at the supermarket. I also didn’t realize how much my family loves me.”

 In our shattered status quo, we are getting a crash course in how we are all connected. We are seeing not only what matters but how much people care. People want to directly experience interest, empathy and support from leaders. In return, individuals and teams give discretionary effort, loyalty and productivity.  



It is widely accepted that emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important than IQ, for senior leaders. But it can’t be faked. It needs to spring from a genuine, deeply held value – humanity. In the absence of this core value, EQ can be self-serving and used to manipulate people. Caring is a deep, personal value or ethic – a willingness as a human to prioritise and act on other peoples’ needs.  Worthy leaders genuinely care about people and they willingly express their appreciation and concern.

Humans do their best work when they feel connected and appreciated. A leader who sincerely and consistently demonstrates care fosters a cooperative culture, not a competitive one. A shift takes place from compliance (must do) to commitment (want to). These committed people will give their best, to help your busines stay afloat during these troubled times.

 Demonstrating genuine care for people takes conscious effort and practice. Each day of COVID-19 provides small and important opportunities.



  1. Be real– It’s okay to confess to not having the answers and making mistakes. Express your feelings appropriately, not just your thoughts. Say what you mean with directness and tact.
  2. Lead the way– If you are asking people to contribute by taking pay cuts etc., make sure you are first in line
  3. Be decisive – if you have to make tough decisions, don’t delay them. Take the time to help people understand your thinking and the process. Everyone knows that options are limited for many business leaders.
  4. Be a coach – encourage new ideas, build people’s confidence and show trust in their capability to step up
  5. Be a listener – be humble, attentive, considerate and provide opportunities for people to raise legitimate concerns
  6. Be a fixer – find out people’s pain points and remove the hassles, no matter how small
  7. Be an appreciator – give positive feedback and recognise generous contributions
  8. Encourage human connection – meet often and start every virtual meeting with asking people to check in. Keep emphasizing – we are all in this together.
  9. Work through conflict – surface tensions and blockages in relationships; you can’t afford negative energy in an economic crisis.
  10. Use rituals – keep up the important rituals you already had in place e.g. Friday night drinks and introduce new, fitting ones for COVID- 19 e.g. daily wins



Worthy leaders lead with both a cool head and warm heart. To lead 100% with your heart is weak but leading solely from your head, results in mechanical rather than human  workplace cultures. Some COVID-19 business decisions you may face will be both mindboggling and heartbreaking. Stay connected with what is going on in your heart and express it authentically to others. When you try and solve that next big problem, remember to show you care.



In my book- The Worthy Leader – I couple two universal and timeless notions – wisdom and leadership to speed up leadership development and improve business outcomes. The Map below provides a comprehensive picture of all the developmental elements you need to switch on to accelerate your growth. The map has five key elements, each of which has three coordinates. In this article, I explore – Humanity - as during COVID-19, everyone deserves our care and concern.


The interdependent map elements are listed below: 

  • Knowing – The cognitive element: Our self-awareness, and perspective that will help us lead innovatively through this crisis.
  • Connecting – The emotional element: The relationships we invest in that return loyalty and teamwork during challenging times.
  • Being – The spiritual element: Our calm self-belief, sense of purpose and character will steady us and reassure our teams
  • Discerning – The element of insight: How we think systemically, hold ourselves to account and make the best, often tough decisions, sometimes in haste and with insufficient data, as the crisis unfolds.
  • Delivering – The element of action: The actions we take in an unknown space, resulting in better outcomes. 

  • Impact – This concerns consequences: The lasting positive impact our decisions and actions can have on our teams, peers, the business and ourselves.


Maryanne Mooney has never been so inspired to help leaders connect with their potential and encouraging them to act on it. Her goal is to help leaders navigate their challenges and to support their growth. She does this through the power of meaningful and practical conversations. In the past 25 years, Maryanne has worked on five continents with more than 10,000 leaders and teams. Her focus is leadership, team and organization development, across all industry sectors. Her experience includes building two consulting firms that were market leaders. Maryanne lives in Australia and works with leading organizations throughout the world. She is an executive coach, president of the Board for the USA Senhoa Foundation and a YPO Spouse and Certified Forum Facilitator. Maryanne's method to coach leaders develop faster on their journey to wisdom is outlined in her recently published book – The Worthy Leader – From Mastery to Potential. The book is available on her website – www.worthyleader.net.

Maryanne will be writing a weekly column in this newsletter, drawing on her book and years of leadership development experience, to provide practical tips about how to be a worthy leader, in troubled times.

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