Leadership lessons personally shared by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani

Giuliani’s book “Leadership” can offer lessons for life and leadership.

What sets the most successful managers apart from others? According to Poynter.org, you might be an expert in your field, even the smartest person in the room — but that is no guarantee of success. You need a range of skills that are particularly well-suited to times of change and challenge.

Changes in the workforce may require some organizations to redefine the work environment. For example, some organizations are moving away from the traditional top-down, command-and-control leadership to the shared leadership approach. Conger and Kanungo suggested that organizational effectiveness improves when superiors share power and control with subordinates. Yet, sharing power and control requires a change in mindset, relationships and structure in many organizations. These changing environments require that employees are willing to accept more responsibility and make efforts to improve their individual performance, including personal leadership development strategies.

One way to improve your own leadership skills is to study leadership development. “Leadership,” written by Rudolph W. Giuliani, describes his time as Mayor of New York City and how he cleaned up the city, reduced crime and revitalized its economy. Most of the book was written prior to September 11, 2001 attacks; however, Giuliani did include a section about his experiences that day, how he dealt with the emergency and the cleanup afterwards.

Giuliani’s book has several leadership themes that caught my attention. These include: team member accountability, personal responsibility of the leader and the need for thorough communication at all levels. I was struck by Giuliani’s purposeful intentions to make New York City great. This single goal guided him even when he needed to try things differently. He looked at a challenge from every angle and carefully developed options that worked. (When the notorious “squeegee men” pestered drivers at city intersections, Giuliani authorized issuing J-walking tickets to help eliminate the problem.) He met with his staff every morning, where they shared complete information and were essentially accountable to each other. He was a dedicated leader to New York City, and spoke about never taking a vacation or sick day. He believed that he was ultimately and personally responsible for the functioning of the city.

As quoted: “My father used to say to me, ‘Whenever you get into a jam, whenever you get into a crisis or an emergency…become the calmest person in the room and you’ll be able to figure your way out of it.” Readers can sense the leadership wisdom in those words; if you can remain calm and intentional, your personal leadership capacity will increase.

The Michigan State University Extension Leadership and Community Engagement team offers professional development training, including volunteer board development, communicating through conflict, meeting management and facilitation skills development, and organizational strategic visioning and planning.

Related Events

Related Articles

Related Resources