Giuliani on Leadership

In recognition of the leadership qualities displayed by Mayor Rudy Giuliani on 9/11, Time Magazine awarded him its prestigious Person of the Year 2001 “for having more faith in us than we had in ourselves, for being brave when required and rude where appropriate and tender without being trite, for not sleeping and not quitting and not shrinking from the pain all around him.” When leadership was most needed, Giuliani steered his city with an authority that turned a major local figure into a world famous figure, eclipsing his nation’s president as a leader of renown.

Giuliani completed the manuscript of Leadership before 9/11, but revised it after 9/11. He describes the characteristics that you need in a crisis: Instant recognition of the severity of the crisis – real, urgent, now. Preparation – he already had in place an Emergency Command Centre. Improvisation – setting up separate fire and police command centres. Communication – immediate press briefing. Undiluted assessment from the people on the spot. Keeping your head even in the face of unspeakable damage. Clear priorities – keep the city government operating. And focus on primary goal – save as many people as possible.

Leadership contains several useful pointers for anyone in a leadership position. Giuliani was particularly good at recognising special effort, and made a habit of singling out city employees who had done something brave or noteworthy. He invited them to attend his daily press conference, where the local and even the national media could follow up the story. Giuliani states categorically: Don’t hold back with the praise, don’t be afraid to give praise.

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