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A Student's Guide to Leadership

Leadership Analysis - Rudy Giuliani

Leadership Characteristics & Traits
Share Your Thoughts! What Makes a GREAT leader?
Transformational Leadership
Decision Making
Motivate Your Team
Leadership Analysis - Winston Churchill
Leadership Analysis - Lee Kuan Yew
Leadership Analysis - Rudy Giuliani
Quiz - What's Your Leadership Potential?
Videos - Famous Speeches By Great Leaders
Further Training in Leadership
Handy links
Handy References

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph ‘Rudy’ Giuliani has been accounted with guiding New Yorkers, and if fact the entire tri-state area (Fisher, 2005) through the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks on the City’s World Trade Centre. He became ‘the face on television calming and consoling the city and nation while organizing the recovery’. (Schanberg, 2003)


Most widely known for his calm, courageous, compassionate leadership during this time (Fisher, 2005), Giuliani in fact has a long history in law and justice which were a precursor to the 9/11 attacks.

Graduating with honors from Law School, Giuliani began his career with the US Attorney’s Office as a Federal Prosecutor. He then moved to the Justice Department to act under Ronald Regan as the Associate Attorney General, where he supervised the Drug Enforcement Agency, the United States Marshals Service and other federal law enforcement agencies (Kopets, 2003).

Following this, Giuliani spent six years as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which led to him to ascend to Mayorship in 1993. He held the Mayoral position for eight years, and was responsible for a city of 8 million.  He cut crime by two thirds, moved 691,000 off the welfare rolls, boosted property values and took on the city’s ‘mob’ head on. (Pooley, 2001)

However, people were tired of his Vesuvian temper and constant battles – against his political enemies, against some of his own appointees, against the media and city funded museums, against black leaders, street vendors and jay walkers. (Pooley, 2001)

An example of this is when he fired former Police Commissioner William Bratton because some believed the top officer overshadowed him in battling crime. Those associated with him joked “the connected get protected", and surmised that anytime anyone in the city looked to blow the whistle about Giuliani, he made them a target, so much so that his associates became reluctant to say anything about his style until after his reign (Gamerman, 2004). This coercive power, generated through his ability to ‘punish’ for non compliance, is limited in essence, and Giuliani’s initial popularity was diminishing. (Dalglish, Dubrin & Miller, 2006, p.209)

However, his popularity peaked again as he fought and won a battle against prostate cancer, which he attributes to giving him ‘more wisdom about the importance of life, the lack of control you have over death’ and removed some of the fear he had of death (Pooley, 2001). However, this was only the start of Giuliani’s challenges, and within a year he would be faced with the toughest test which could be placed onto a Mayor; that of the terrorist attack initiated by Bin Laden on the World Trade Centre Twin Towers.

Giuliani won the respect of many American’s as well as great political leaders including Vladimir Putin, Nelson Mandela, and Tony Blair, through his crisis management skills. Jacque Chirac named him ‘Rudy the Rock’ (Pooley, 2001). (Schanberg, 2003 states “He was a crisis mayor, near brilliant in convulsive events, such as terrorist attacks.” The contingency theory of power suggests that these leaders would have been drawn to Giuliani’s perceived power, which was developed through his centrality to the crisis.  He was integral in the rescue effort (physically and emotionally) and developed a high degree of power through this interaction.

However, not all American’s were as supportive of his leadership style. Perhaps tainted by grief, the minority made comments such as. "Three thousand people murdered does not mean leadership." (Mittelstadt, 2004)

Throughout his challenges, it was Giuliani’s mistress, Judith Nathan, rather than his second wife, Donna Hanover that stood next to him. Sparking ugly headlines and dueling press conferences (Pooley, 2001) the New York public were once again dismissive of Giuliani’s leadership style. However, due to the intermittent reinforcement of his ‘positive’ leadership, the general public identified his efforts and demonstrated their support.

This support was further reinforced when Time Magazine named him ‘Mayor of the World’ when he was awarded the Person of the Year 2001 award. The magazine identified him as a ‘very human man who taught us superhuman courage’ (Pooley, 2001). 

Thanks to this positive and intermittent reinforcement, Giuliani launched his leadership presentation roadshow. It is easy to recognize why Giuliani has been identified as ‘conceited’, when he states "When people come to you to ask for advice and information because you know more about a subject than they do, that’s a sign of great leadership," (Koch, 2004) He once again demonstrated this behaviour, stating "Read biographies of leaders you admire," he says. "That will tell you more about leadership than any leadership book."

Leadership Beliefs

When defining leadership, Giuliani states “There are many qualities that make a great leader. But having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader.” Although he lists fourteen principals in his book ‘Leadership’, when touring the world and demanding up to $100,000 per lecture, he focused on these main five:

Strong beliefs: Giuliani believes “If you don’t have strong personal beliefs, you can’t lead anyone.” After 9/11, President George Bush asked Giuliani “what can I do for you?” To this, Giuliani responded, “If you catch this guy, Bin Laden, I would like to be the one to execute him.” Giuliani later stated he was serious. “Bin Laden had attacked my city, and as Mayor I had a strong feeling that I was the most appropriate person to do it”. (Kopet, 2003) He believes that once a decision has been made, you must stick to it, “but up until that time make it clear that you’ll entertain changing your mind even on subjects that seem cut and dried. People should be ready to admit when there is evidence to make them change their mind…that is an indication of intellectual honesty” (Sanow, 2003).

Optimism: “what if I would have come out in the beginning and I stood here and I said things are bad. Things are very bad. They are only going to get worse. And there is no hope. Now, follow me” He said, “people follow hope, they follow optimism. They follow someone who dreams. People are drawn to that. You have to enjoy life. Even is we may be going through the worst of times, you have to enjoy life”(Skaer, 2004). Instead, he gave the nation hope. He states "Look, in a crisis you have to be optimistic. When I said the spirit of the city would be stronger, I didn't know that. I just hoped it” (Giuliani, 2004).

Courage: “Courage is seeing the danger, but then overcoming it to do the thing you have to do”. Giuliani has great respect for firefighters, police officers, and soldiers because they “do something really extraordinary for which we should step back and honor. They put their lives at risk to protect everybody, everyday”. (Skaer, 2004) This courage was put to the test when the first tower collapsed and he and his aides were stuck inside a building near the site, "there were times I was afraid. Everybody was. But the concentration was on. If I don't do what I have to do, everything falls apart" (Pooley, 2001).

Relentless Preparation: In a city that has frequently referred to as ‘ungovernable’, Giuliani prepared relentlessly, in a quest to overcome the city’s high crime rate. Examples of this are demanding daily crime mapping and analysis and ‘the deployment of police resources to the areas of need as revealed by the data.’ (Siegel, 2004) Under Giuliani’s ‘watch’ (1993 – 2001) murder, burglary, auto-theft and shootings declined by 70% in New York, and a massive reduction of 93% in inmate-to-inmate violence in the city’s jails. (Siegel, 2004) In the same fashion, Giuliani’s team spent a lot of time planning and simulating emergency situations, which, were used in the 9/11 bombings. Giuliani believed the successful evacuation of 25,000 people from the twin towers was one of the ‘greatest rescue operations in history’. (Siegel, 2004).

He also sees preparation on a personal level, and is an advocate for lifelong learning. He has created a training course for government officials in how to tackle the challenges of managing America’s largest city. He also looks to history to build his own values and ethics, and has been influenced by the likes of Ronald Reagan (Skaer, 2004) and Winston Churchill. (Siegel, 2004) He has extensively researched Bin Laden, and met with Joseph Bodansky, author of ‘Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America, in an attempt to ‘learn more about the issues that had been forced upon the city’. (Siegel, 2004).

To this end, Giuliani states that you should always sweat the small things; “understanding how something works is not only a leader’s responsibility; it also makes him or her better able to let people do their jobs.” (Sanow, 2003)

Teamwork: After the initial terrorist attack, Giuliani become the crisis manager, bringing together other powerful ‘heads’ from city, state, and federal governments for marathon daily meetings that got everyone working together. In a news release, he noted the experience of his team as turning the city into a "worldwide example of good government and effective management." This reinforcement demonstrated to the team members that they were being effective and efficient, and gave them vision and built morale.

Leadership Styles

One of Giuliani’s favourite quotes comes from Abraham Lincoln, “I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that shall be down inside me.” (Brooks, 2004)

Giuliani’s “Leadership” is written in the same like-it-or-not, this-is-the-way-it-is bluntness that “New Yorkers come to expect from him as Mayor”. Kopets (2003) accredits this style to his upbringing, personality, character, and even his own flaws. “He never wore a false face as a public official, or cloaked his intentions. Quite the opposite: his critics charges him egotistical and vindictive” (Kopets, 2003). Raised in a family of fire fighters, cops and criminals (his father was a con and his uncle a mob connected loan shark), he chose the path of righteousness. For example, whilst serving as a prosecutor he was responsible for locking up Mafia bosses, crooked politicians and Wall Street inside traders. But it wasn’t these victories, which gave him the most publicity; it was that of his vindictive nature and thirst for publicity (Pooley, 2001). An example of this was the parading of two arrested Stockbrokers, past television cameras. He later dropped the charges against the men, but his point was made.

Another highly publicized example is Giuliani's reported failure to background check Bernard Kerik before he became commissioner of the largest police force (New York) in the world. Kerik has been accused of using an apartment intended for exhausted 9/11 rescuers to meet two mistresses, getting entangled with a construction company under investigation for alleged Mafia ties, hiding a third marriage from his much-publicized life story and various other unethical actions. (Gamerman, 2004)

Siegel (2004) claims that Giuliani ‘suffers from the public figure’s tendency to claim what some would call excessive credit for accomplishments that were not his alone. He does not dwell on what some saw as his unbecoming effort to stay in office past the end of his term’. (Siegel, 2004) Reminiscent of Machiavellian tendencies, in which leaders manipulate others in order to gain a personal advantage (Dalglish, et al. 2006, P., 221). Schanberg (2003), suggests “some of the copious credit Giuliani received should have gone to his first Police Commissioner, William Bratton, whom Giuliani fired when Bratton began receiving some credit in the press”.

However, this directive style, which emphasizes planning, organizing, and controlling, was not demonstrated through the attack period. He developed a more supportive style, which centres on the well being of the group members. He displayed considerable support for his people and he enhanced morale when the nation was feeling violated (Dalglish, et al. 2006, P.221). He recognised the areas of which he had control, and through the before mentioned communication channels, showed American’s that he too, was feeling the same emotion, but at the same time, gave them the hope that they as a nation would succeed.

Leadership Analysis

Dalglish et al. (2006, p.5) states that the most common characteristic of leaders is their ability to inspire and stimulate others to achieve worthwhile goals. Giuliani best demonstrated his leadership ability when he was inspiring the American public to gather the strength necessary to charge through the crisis at hand, and prove to the world that terrorism could not stop America, and in particular, New York.

He did this by wearing the ‘9 hats’ that classify the leadership function. He acted as a figurehead by being the ‘face’ of the crisis. He attended all of the appropriate ceremonies. He acted as the spokesperson, appearing on television, the radio and in person to project his message of hope. He negotiated resources, both human and financial, to aid the relief effort, and coached all of those involved by giving positive reinforcement, and feedback. He helped to build a team which he acted part of, through his recognition and involvement of all party members in all communication briefings. He kept abreast of all developments and studied terrorism to ensure that he could act as a technical problem solver, and with this information, acted as an entrepreneur in order to keep the nation moving forward, taking the appropriate risks along the way. This strategic plan worked toward the nation’s ultimate goal through the use of national governmental policies. (Dalslish et al, 2006, p.11)

Throughout this, he demonstrated traits, which aligned with that of a task related leader that is, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. However, he was also able to demonstrate emotional intellect, using the ability to manage his emotions in order to successfully lead.

Known for his volatile temper and withering sarcasm, the mayor earned a reputation for being self-righteous and ruthless in his criticism of those with whom he disagreed; therefore relating to the task instead of the interpersonal aspect seemed to be a logical stance for Giuliani. He became “America’s homeland security boss, giving calm, information briefings about the attacks and the extraordinary response. He was the gutsy decision maker, balancing security against symbolism, overruling those who wanted to keep the city buttoned up tight” (Pooley, 2001).

He demonstrated that he was able to adapt to the situation particularly in the absence of President Bush, and through this adaptability, gave direction to not only the relief workers, but the entire nation. He made it clear from the first press conference that there was only one end to this crisis, and expected high performance standards. Quoting Giuliani (2003),  “Tomorrow New York is going to be here, and we’re going to rebuild, and we’re going to be stronger than we were before…I want the people of New York to be an example to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, that terrorism can’t stop us.” And he acted on these words, often at the centre of the action, whether at Ground Zero (the name given to the World Trade Centre rubble), at press conferences, funerals, and communication briefings. Through these, he gave feedback to the public and relief workers and as such, acted as a stabilizer; acting as a calm and controlled role model for all Americans. Dalglish, et al (2006, p.63) states that “when the leader remains calm, group members are reassured that things will work out.” However, Giuliani redefined this trend, and wearing his heart on his sleeve. America identified with Giuliani’s empathy and tears, and soon realised they had to accept the reality, harshness and emotion of the attack. However, when required, Giuliani took the hard road, asked the tough questions, and at times, acted as the Devil’s Advocate to ensure that the high performance standards could be achieved. 



Donald Rumsfeld and Rudy Giuliani at the site of the World Trade Center, on November 14, 2001.

Giuliani as Time Magazine's 'Person of the Year 2001'.

Giuliani hoped to attend services for all of the 23 cops and 343 firefighters lost on 9/11.

Giuliani has attended close to 200 funerals, services and wakes

A Student's Guide to Leadership