I had the good fortune to meet Dale Moss in 1995 when I worked under his leadership in marketing at British Airways and am beyond lucky to have had his continued mentorship throughout my life. Dale is always kind, funny, thoughtful, humble, and a great storyteller – always inspiring me (and others) to be a better person. Dale taught me that companies won’t make a profit unless they care about and take care of their people – a lesson echoed by many of my executive clients.
So I dedicate this month’s newsletter to Dale Moss and his dad Mike. In Dale’s words – my dad is now 95 years old and has always been my idol so it’s particularly tough to see him struggle like this but he’s hanging in there. A real tough WW ll navy guy who joined the navy at 17 years of age and now lives in a retirement community that is trying to contain COVID. And it’s been quite a difficult time because every week there is another issue somewhere. Seems like once again in his life, my dad is dodging bullets.
I will always keep Dale’s lessons and this story close to my heart whether I am partnering with a leader, spending time with my family, or trying to give back to our community … sending thoughts of health, peace, and ease to Dale and his dad, Mike – and to everyone, everywhere, during these challenging times.
Do You Care? Leadership Lessons from My Dad, Brother Bernadine, and Archie Demarco
– By Dale Moss
There are many things that make up a great leader, but to me, there is a common strand that binds great leaders together. It’s caring. I have seen pyramids, trees, and all sorts of diagrams that overcomplicate what good leadership looks like. Of course, character, commitment, confidence, and competence are all essential qualities. But without caring, they are sterile.
Throughout my career, I have always tried to embody this critical element of leadership. The times I have demonstrated a sense of empathy and caring for the teams I have had the privilege to lead were the moments I felt most successful.
I have chosen to reflect on the people in my life who, by action, showed me what caring and leadership were really about and, in the most profound way, set the stage for my leadership style.
My dad is the toughest softhearted guy I have ever known. And it took me many years to see, appreciate, and understand this wonderful combination of seemingly opposite styles. He grew up during the Depression in a difficult family environment and joined the navy at sixteen years of age during World War II. When I was growing up, Dad scared the heck out of me because he looked tough and took discipline seriously. In fact, everyone thought Dad worked for the FBI. But underneath, he was a real softy.
Toward the end of my senior year in college, I was struggling to find a job. Having gone to several interviews without any success, I felt sorry for myself and started moping around the house. This went on for several weeks until Dad had had enough. I was sitting in our living room reading when Dad walked in, a big book under his arm. He sat next to me and said, “Son, I know you are having a tough time, and your mom and I feel for you. We are prepared to help out in any way we can. But if you’re looking for sympathy, it’s under S.” He dropped a big dictionary on the coffee table and left the room. In one instance, he showed me two contrasting qualities: deep caring and self-reliance.
I grew up on Long Island and attended St. Anthony’s, a Franciscan high school. The school was located in Smithtown with an enrollment of only three hundred students. Brother Bernadine, our principal, personally greeted every single student by name as they got off the bus! Regardless of the weather, he stood outside in his cape, rain or shine, hot or cold, and greeted us, each and every day. He knew each student’s name and how we were doing. Brother Bernadine was an impressive man who cared about his students, and we knew it.
One particular memory stands out in my mind. One day, Brother Bernadine pulled me aside and mentioned that my mom had not sent in my monthly tuition. He casually told me, “Tell your mom there is no need to worry, just send it in next month.”
What I learned about leadership from Brother Bernadine was that he was loved and respected not only for being the principal, but also for being a caring man. He led from the front; as a result, his students would have gone through a brick wall for him. We were a family with a culture unlike any school my other friends attended. It was simple and a great formula: Brother Bernadine cared, he showed it, and we all knew it.
Coach Archie DeMarco
Archie DeMarco was the athletic director and varsity baseball coach at St. Anthony’s. He was a retired naval officer and had also played for one of the Cincinnati farm teams before joining the Navy. Coach DeMarco was a great guy—clearly in charge, tough when he needed to be, and (almost) always with a smile on his face.
I loved baseball with all of my heart and played junior varsity as a freshman. So when the spring of my sophomore year arrived, I was excited to try out for the varsity team. While St. Anthony’s was a small school, we still had a competitive baseball team. Every few days during tryouts, a list was posted in the locker room with the guys who were still on the team. As I made it through three or four cuts, I remained hopeful.
Coach DeMarco knew both baseball and young men. One afternoon, he came to my classroom and asked if he could have a few words with me. As we walked, he put his arm around me and said, “Kid, you need playing time, and while you could make the team, I think it’s best if you stay with the junior varsity team and get playing time. There are juniors and seniors who will probably play ahead of you. I’m going to need you in the next two years, but you need more playing experience.”
This was potentially a moment of huge disappointment for me. However, I wasn’t terribly crushed because Coach DeMarco cared enough to come to me, explain the situation, and ask for my support. He certainly didn’t have to do that, but he clearly cared, and I am forever grateful. He took the sting and embarrassment out of the situation and encouraged me to keep working. As it turned out, he really was a genius because his decision to keep me on the junior varsity team worked out for the best. In fact, Coach DeMarco helped secure me a baseball scholarship to Fordham University. I could go on and on about how that experience impacted my life.
Throughout the years, I have discovered that we truly learn life’s important lessons in situations like the ones I just shared. I have been blessed to have people in my life who have demonstrated caring in different situations, and it is their actions that have enabled me to achieve whatever successes I have enjoyed and to better lead. I look back in deep appreciation to these loving, kind, and confident people and to many others who took the time to care.
Dale Moss has held several leadership positions including CEO, OpenSkies; COO, Jet Airways India Ltd; Chairman, British Airways Holidays; and Director of Sales Worldwide, British Airways, where he led twelve thousand employees and was known for building great teams and delivering extraordinary results. He is currently president of Dale Moss Consulting Ltd.
- Click here to hear The Science of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman on Dan Harris’s Ten Percent Happier podcast and learn more about three kinds of empathy (cognitive, emotional, and compassion); the “marshmallow test” and impulse control; and the “amygdala hijacks” (one hour)
- Click here to read The Avatars of the Strategist: This One Ubiquitous Job has Four Distinct Roles by Ram Shivakumar, Adjunct Professor of Economics and Strategy at University of Chicago Business School.
- Click here to learn about the Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention—Patient and Doctor perspectives by Lauren Miller Rogen and Dr. Richard Isaacson on the Peter Attia Drive podcast (2 hours 11 minutes)
- Click here to adopt a sea turtle patient like Ruth Ginsberg for $40. What a meaningful holiday gift and thank you to my sister Rachael for your volunteer work at Loggerhead Marine Center in Juno, Florida!
- Click here to smile and hear Puppy for Hanukkah. Thank you to my friend Ari for sharing and making us smile (4 minutes)!
And if you would like to join my free weekly Zoom community meditation practice Mondays 7p EST 🙏, please email to sign up!
And in Dale’s thoughtful words he shared via a recent email exchange … Let’s see what the new year brings with the hope for good health, smart political leadership, and the hope that we all find our way back to doing good things for ourselves and more importantly others.