Rudolph W. Giuliani was the mayor of New York from 1994 to 2002. Normally, like all past mayors of major cities, his achievements would fade away just a few short years after leaving office.
Yes, he is recognized for reducing New York city's crime rate by 57% , cutting welfare rolls in half and reducing taxes by $2.5 Billion…ho hum.
While still mayor in early 2001, Giuliani's popularity had waned, the shine was off the star. He went through a divorce, overcame prostate cancer and he dropped out of his highly publicized race for the U.S. Senate seat against famed Hillary Clinton. Just as it appeared that he would fade away into that obscurity, an event occurred by which his true inner strength, character, and leadership would exceed the challenge at hand.
At his nadir, in early 2001, he could not be elected senator, but now post - 9/11, he is clearly at his zenith, and a presidential contender.
"More than any of us can bear"
September 11, 2001 Changed Everything
With the tragic events of 9/11 Giuliani displayed himself as a determined leader who could bring remarkable strength and stability at a time of great uncertainty. He calmed, consoled and reassured the public while urging them to return to their normal lives and not to let the terrorists achieve their aim He was named Time magazine's 2001 Person of the Year and Queen Elizabeth II bestowed onto him an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Although he began writing his book, Leadership before 9/11/01, it is doubtful that it would have been as popular if he had not displayed exemplary leadership characteristics during that tragic event. How would the rest of us have performed that day?
Giuliani says that there leadership qualities can be cultured. He would attest that "Leaders are made, though they are born first". During their life they learn leadership skills but upon occasion, they are tested as a pilot may be when several threatening events occur simultaneously.
"People who live in freedom have more strength than those who live in oppression."
Leadership is like athleticism, that is one has to stay in shape. By handling crises as they occur, they may one day be conditioned to handle "the worst kind of test" as with 9/11.
At the conference Giuliani offered up 6 skills that people should learn in order to become good leaders. Here are some excerpts.
1. Have Strong Beliefs
You have to know what you believe in and constantly culture that throughout your life. Ask of you, "What's important to me?" You have to know in your core, what you stand for. When a major crisis does occur, you will be guided by these basic principles.
One of the men Giuliani admired most was former U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, because he was driven by extremely strong beliefs. He had strong views on communism and how to improve the then U.S. economy. Although self-evident today, Reagan's views were not popular during his time.
Another person Giuliani admired was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who advocated non-violence. Far more effective than physical force, this is where society can look in the mirror and see that their actions were not in synch with their words… change occurs.
You have to develop your own values, by reading scriptures, the New Testament, words by Gandhi, etc. It helped Giuliani to get by 9/11. He was in a desperate situation. But he had one belief that he held onto that ultimately helped him to prevail: People who live in freedom have more strength than those who live in oppression.
2. Be an Optimist
You have to be an optimist. People won't follow a pessimist. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an optimist who spoke of the "Promised Land".
"I never lost a game, I just ran out of time"
It's not the person who wins all the time who is great, but the person continually trying to pull it off. Take March madness basketball for instance, a coach down by 6 points with only 5 seconds left, doesn't give up, he always offers an optimistic strategy.
Vice Lombardi was noted for saying that he "never lost a game". When challenged on this by writers, he clarified, "I never lost a game, I just ran out of time". Lombardi was one who never gave up and was confident and optimistic that he could win.
Giuliani's father gave him sage advice: "If you're ever in a burning building, pretend to be calmer, you'll find the exit closest to you and that's open." Clear thinking shuts down in a panic situation only through remaining calm, even if you have to fake it, will better solutions appear.
It's always better to ask, "How do we solve this?" Never say, "It can't be done".
To be successful or even just to get through life you need courage. What is courage? It is not the absence of fear, but the management of fear. There is no greater emotional rush than overcoming your fear.
There was a police officer in New York who took an oath to save lives, not to give press conferences. He jumped in the East river to save a life, but was petrified to address the New York press corps. He was trained to overcome one type of fear, but not the other.
Giuliani shared the story of the injured firefighter who was on medical leave. He was off duty, but of his own volition went into the World Trade Center on 9/11. He had a premonition and left a note in the event of his death. He did lose his life that day, but right up until the end he was doing what he is all about.
4. Relentless Preparation
Giuliani worked for a judge who advocated Herculean preparation, 4 hours of preparation for each hour of court. Take time to think of every eventuality. However, no matter how much you anticipate, there will be surprises. But you can overcome these surprises due to your preparation.
A career of relentless preparation means you can borrow from your other contingency plans. Giuliani and his 9/11 team though faced with a brand new crisis, were able to draw from a host of other emergency plans to respond quickly.
Develop an effective team where all the necessary skills are covered. Don't fall for the "I know everything" syndrome. Ask, "What are my weaknesses? Where do I need help? " Then go balance your weaknesses.
When Giuliani took over as mayor of New York, it was, in his words, "a mess". 70% of the New Yorkers polled wanted to live somewhere else. There were 2 major problems: crime and the economy. He felt he was strong at crime, but weak on the economy. So Giuliani added staff members with strong financial backgrounds to his team.
You have to overcompensate for your weaknesses as George W. Bush did with foreign policy. He was a governor from Texas that had no experience in foreign policy, so he brought the strongest people he could to his cabinet.
"Weddings Discretionary, Funerals Mandatory"
You have to be able to get your ideas out of your mind and into the mind others. Fortunately, if you do the other 5 things really well, all you have to do is get out and talk to people.
If you don't know what you're talking about, bring in a team member who can talk to what you don't know about, that's O.K., that's good leadership.
Think of sports coaches, they don't touch the ball at all; they work entirely through other people. This can be true in your business.
Joe Torre, Manager of the New York Yankees is a great leader who stands behind his players. He's a man who cares about people.
Ask of yourself, "Do you love people?" Ultimately it's human beings who perform, you have to love them.
His father always told him, "Weddings are discretionary, funerals mandatory". During the period of 9/11, Giuliani went to a lot of funerals. They need you in their time of need. That is, people need you more in times when things are going wrong than in times of jubilation.
Watch a book review of Rudy Giuliani about Leadership
Marcus Buckingham recalled something Giuliani said at a press conference. He was asked what he thought the final body count would be after the attacks on the twin towers. Rather than belittling it to a specific number, he communicated the feeling of a nature, "More than any of us can bear". It's clear Giuliani is a master communicator and healer.
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