Rudolph Giuliani's Definition of Leadership

Former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani founded Giuliani Partners, a consulting firm offering leadership advice in 2002. The publication of Giuliani's book "Leadership" in the same year cemented his reputation as a leadership thinker of our age. While the book's leadership advice in particular has been criticised as little more than common sense and home-spun clichéd quotes, Guiliani's definition of leadership comes over as very Churchillian.

Giuliani credits Churchill's inspirational leadership and writing as having moved him when he and New York most needed inspiration - post 9/11. Giuliani is sensitive enough to realise that he may sound grandiose quoting Churchill and is at pains to not compare himself to the great English statesman for fear of accusations of pomposity or arrogance. Instead he pays tribute to Sir Winston in his book and goes on to explain all the influences and leadership principles that have taken him from being a junior lawyer, city mayor and to the brink of the US presidency.

So what is Rudolph Giuliani's definition of leadership?

Systemise Routine and Consistancy

From being elected mayor of New York city Giuliani made it a daily routine to hold a morning meeting with all his direct reports present (plus any extra necessary participants). The meetings followed a very similar agenda with each participant giving their reports on progress and issues in turn. Thus all 15-20 participants had an opportunity to say their piece and to input to each others presentation. The very routineness of this exercise meant that things were continually being followed-up and ensured that everyone got stuff done each and every day. Giuliani loved to get small early wins for every project he started - his daily meeting format encouraged his team to do likewise: take action and make changes. It also allowed Giuliani to keep an eye on the detail of various projects. Like Churchill, Giuliani's leadership walks the tightrope between keeping one eye on the big over-arching objective and the other eye deep in the detail.

Preparation and Learning

As mayor, in charge of an immensely complex bureaucracy, Giuliani couldn't hope to be an expert in everything. However, he was passionate about learning as much as he could about all the key topics. A voracious reader, Giuliani was meticulous in his study and in his preparation for meetings, TV interviews or speeches. He would use visualisation techniques to help him prepare for stressful situations and to formulate outcomes in his mind. A keen amateur historian, Giuliani found inspiration and wise counsel through studying the past. His ability to study a subject broadly and deeply meant that he was never completely at the mercy of his "expert" advisor's and he could effectively cross-examine them to test the robustness of their arguments. He also sought to create and stimulate a culture of preparedness in others within his team. Decision making is that mix of speed and deliberation. While still undecided Giuliani would hear all sides of an argument - going out of his way to create tension from 3 or 4 opposing views to test the robustness of arguments.Once a decision had been made it would be all steam ahead with total confidence. Getting on with things, especially in times of crises, instils further confidence in others.

The Buck Stops Here

According to Rudy Giuliani himself the two words that generally summarize his leadership philosophy is "I'm responsible." Like Churchill, Giuliani used statistical analysis greatly during the leadership of his staff while mayor. Churchill had Prof Lindemann, a statistician to help prepare his analysis. Giuliani had computer generated spreadsheets of key performance indicators. When compiling a plan of action Giuliani would first ask: "What is the purpose/mission/goal?". Then he would align all resources and processes around this. All decisions must flow from this over-arching aim. Giuliani would then chart and track progress through various indicators, each of course aligned with the goal. Giuliani, like Jack Welch, loved charts to illustrate visually his progress. There would be no hiding place.

Values and Beliefs

Giuliani's leadership principles are underpinned by his strongly held values and beliefs. For Giuliani leaders lead via their ideas and these should be predicated upon their beliefs. Core to the Giuliani values are his beliefs in democracy, religious freedom and capitalism. These are of course personal and for Giuliani, that's a good thing. Giuliani has never been one to tow the party line for the sake of it (Churchillian trait again!). Giuliani's leadership path is not set by his critics - it's set by his beliefs. While he holds strong beliefs, Giuliani cautions against letting gut prejudices get in the way. His less core beliefs are up for review. Leadership demands a blend of confidence with humility.

Loyalty and Your People

In Giuliani's own opinion his greatest skill is his ability to recognise his own weaknesses (for example: economics) and to then balance these shortcomings with excellent hires. Surrounding yourself with great people (and avoiding "Yes Men") makes masses of logical sense, but the more the leader excels the greater likelihood of Chauvinist followers. Giulinai would often seek to create working partnerships amongst his staff of two people with complementary skill sets: "working marriages" feeling this creative tension and perhaps a little gentlemanly competition to be a good thing. One is reminded of Churchill and Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke!

With a strong belief in the necessity of keeping the environment stimulating Giuliani would set his team stretching goals and set them off on pioneering adventures - loading on masses of responsibility. They would have ample chance to find success for themselves but also to contribute substantially to others. Giuliani earned incredible devotion from many of his staff. This is because he himself always chose to give his team the benefit of the doubt - certainly initially. Giuliani stood by his guys. Giuliani of course was quick to sack people who warranted it - but he would never let the press decide his team makeup. He argues: what would your opinion be of leader that distances himself from his his team in times of trouble?

While he was often critcised as being slow to sack staff at the first whiff of scandal he believed that his backing provided his team with the confidence to walk boldly when others may be tempted to tread on eggshells. He tended to think more of his staff than he did of the opinions of outsiders and generally his staff reciprocated.

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