Importance of Leadership in Book by Rudolph Giuliani

After reading the book Leadership, I was fascinated by the amount of conviction and energy Giuliani demonstrated not only during his eight (8) year term as Mayor of New York City, but throughout his entire career as a United States Prosecuting Attorney. Giuliani was influenced by the leadership styles of many well-known historical leaders to include Winston Churchill, Judge Lloyd MacMahon, and Ronald Reagan. These were all people he admired for their work ethic and ability to motivate and inspire people to perform beyond their own expectations.

Giuliani’s leadership was crucial in the period following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center; there is little doubt that New York City and the country as a whole was inspired by the leadership Giuliani demonstrated during one of the darkest hours in U.S. history. It was these leadership qualities that earned him the title “America’s Mayor”.

As a result of my 30 years in law enforcement, I was naturally fascinated with Giuliani’s use of Compstat to systematically address the elevated crime problem within New York City; this approach is based on the principles of scientific analysis and accountability. To reinforce the concept of accountability, within the Police Department, each Precinct Commander was responsible for explaining any deviation in their crime statistics. Soon, Precincts were employing innovative ideas for reducing crime and competing against each other to reduce criminal activity. Ideas were shared and the pros and cons of each specific strategy were discussed in a cooperative monthly group forum. This improved the overall success of Compstat and led to the largest reduction in crime ever experienced in New York City history.

It has always been my belief that in addition to enthusiasm and accountability, a leader needs to understand and his employees and not take lightly the degree empathy can play in motivation and organizational culture. Mayor Giuliani best demonstrated the importance of this in Chapter 11 – Weddings Discretionary, Funerals Mandatory. Mayor Giuliani described the importance of participating in the social aspects of the people you supervise. Although not considered a happy occasion, Giuliani believes funerals are also considered a social event that requires a leader to demonstrate their compassion. Giuliani wrote: “Funerals are difficult. That’s why one’s needed, and why it means more when one shows up”. “A leader ought to join with people in enjoying those rewards for hard work and sacrifice. But when the chips are down – when someone you care about is struggling for answers or burying a loved one – that’s when the measure of a leader is taken”. (Giuliani, 2002. p256) Giuliani believed that a leader would be more successful and overall workplace production would increase if workers believed that a leader took an active interest in their social as well as their workplace well-being.

As a key decision maker, Giuliani advocates making an important decision only after taking time to “play out” all alternatives. He refused to be tempted to make a decision just to end the discomfort of contemplating a decision. Giuliani believed the longer you had to make a decision, “the more mature and well-reasoned that decision should be” (Giuliani, 2002. p. 123). Mayor Giuliani was not afraid to reverse course and re-evaluate his decisions once a plan had been implemented; it was more important that the right decision be made than it was to risk being criticized for not making the best decision initially. This leadership trait was not just confined to work issues; Giuliani used this same process when he was forced to make important health decisions in his personal life after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He carefully educated himself about the disease, talked to several professionals, weighed his options and took his time to make a treatment decision that he was comfortable with.

After reading the book, I do believe that he largely improved morale among city employees because of his efforts to simplify government by consolidating departments, making organizational charts easier to understand and improving the working conditions within the offices. He put leaders in place that believed in his mission and would instill that enthusiasm into the workers they supervised. The reduction of crime and the improvement in the quality of life in New York City is perhaps the biggest legacy left behind by Mayor Giuliani. Much of this can be traced back to his understanding of accountability as demonstrated by the Compstat model.

Other than the status of being an elected official, one of the most obvious characteristics possessed by Rudy Giuliani that inspired people to follow him was his charisma. I believe there is ample research to suggest that people are inspired to follow the lead of people who display exceptional performance and leadership. I could fill many pages of examples of the charisma exhibited by Rudy Giuliani during his life, however I will only mention the ones that made the biggest impression on me as I read the book .

  • During a threatened strike of the New York Waste Management / Sanitation Department, Mayor Giuliani recalled the way President Ronald Reagan dealt with the Air Traffic Controllers that went on strike. Giuliani refused to be “bullied” and advised the Sanitation workers that they would be immediately fired if they went on strike. As a result the workers came back to the bargaining table and a new contract was negotiated.
  • While hosting an event at the Lincoln Center for invited guests of the United Nations, Mayor Giuliani observed that Yasser Arafat was present in the crowd. Considering Arafat a terrorist that could not be trusted, Giuliani intentionally had left him off the guest list. Despite being advised not to potentially create an international incident, Giuliani had members of his staff order Arafat to leave the event immediately.
  • After been given a tour of Ground Zero by Mayor Giuliani, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal presented a check in the amount of 10 million dollars for the Twin Towers Disaster Relief fund. The Saudi Prince quickly spoke about American policy being partially responsible for the attack. Giuliani considered these words to desecrate the memory of those killed in the attack, which outraged him. He stated, ‘ There is no moral equivalent for this [terrorist] act. There is no justification for it. The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification for it when they slaughtered 4,000 or 5,000 innocent people.’ On behalf of the families of those lost, Giuliani promptly refused the check.

Agree with him or not, the charisma demonstrated by Rudy Giuliani sparked an emotional reaction in people; a true leader inspires people to follow and want to perform. Giuliani led by example, he was usually the first one up in the morning and typically the last one to bed at night; he never asked more from people than he was also willing to contribute.

Works Cited

  1. Giuliani, Rudolph W., and Ken Kurson. Leadership. New York: Hyperion, 2002. Print.