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Leadership by Rudolph W. Giuliani


Rating: (Recommended)


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Like a Rock

Every reader of Rudy Giuliani’s book, Leadership, will come away with the feeling, “man, that guy works hard.” Whether you’re a fan or foe of the man and his opinions, you’re likely to enjoy reading his take on leadership. It’s thoughtful and practical. Here are Rudy’s 14 points for leading:

First Things First

Prepare Relentlessly

Everyone's Accountable, All of the Time

Surround Yourself with Great People

Reflect, Then Decide

Underpromise and Overdeliver

Develop and Communicate Strong Beliefs

Be Your Own Man

Loyalty: The Vital Virtue

Weddings Discretionary, Funerals Mandatory

Stand Up to Bullies

Study. Read. Learn Independently

Organize Around a Purpose

Bribe Only Those Who Will Stay Bribed


Those are also the headings of each chapter in Leadership. In each chapter, Giuliani explains how he came to understand this key to successful management and how he tried to carry it out in his role as leader. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 8, Develop and Communicate Strong Beliefs (pp. 171-73):


Develop and Communicate Strong Beliefs


Great leaders lead by ideas. Ideology is enormously important when running any large organization. The people who work for you, those who look to you for answers, the media, even your rivals have a right to know how you see the world.

Strong beliefs are sometimes risky in modern American politics. That's because a politician who explains his beliefs to people takes two major risks—that the goals stemming from the belief cannot be achieved (in which case he'll be called a failure) and that too many voters will disagree. But leadership isn't about succeeding on every single initiative, nor about building consensus behind every action.

The importance of developing strong beliefs is one of the reasons I favor politicians who have accomplished something substantial outside the political realm. Those who have spent their entire life in politics often become spin artists rather than thinkers. They lose attention span. Young people who go directly into elective politics often lose the ability to think critically.

For any issue, you must first figure out the substance, considering it from every angle, getting it into your bloodstream, before deciding the position you want to take. Once you know where you stand, it's perfectly appropriate to present your view in the most favorable light you can. But don't first work out how to make a favorable case, then select your position.

There are three critical stages here. First, you must develop beliefs. Next, you have to communicate them. Finally, you must take action, a theme I develop in the next chapter, "Be Your Own Man.' In this chapter I concentrate on the first two.




The ideas that form the basis of your leadership can develop in a number of ways. Some come from your parents, as many of mine did. Others derive from friends, teachers, clergy, even rivals.

For the first eighteen years of my life, I had two main vocations in mind—medicine or the priesthood. Both satisfied a feeling that had been growing in me my whole life: that to be happy and fulfilled, l had to serve a greater cause—helping others. My father was always helping people, trying to find a job for a neighbor or taking a relative to the hospital. Although neither of my parents was particularly devout, they both felt deeply the Church's message of experiencing grace by giving to others. That commitment filtered down to me.

All through high school (at Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn), I would discuss religion and notions of service with one of my teachers, Brother Kevin, and with my friend Alan Placa. At the end of my time there, I signed up to enter the Montfort Fathers (in Bay Shore, Long Island), a religious order devoted to serving in the poorest countries. Alan was going to join the Christian Brothers. I wasn't going to do anything halfway: if I was going to become a priest, I was going to help out the most underprivileged I could find. I remember thinking I would probably end up in Haiti or Africa. But then, as June turned to July, I realized I had a problem: my budding interest in the opposite sex was something that wouldn't be suppressed. I thought, maybe 1m just not ready. I enrolled in Manhattan College hoping that perhaps I'd be better prepared for celibacy after a couple of years.

In college, I entered the pre-med program. But as much as I loved learning biology, I liked ideas better than science. Alan and I even joked about putting out a shingle, "Philosophers at Large,” renting ourselves out as rhetorical opponents by the hour. At the time, the only kind of doctor I thought of becoming was a surgeon, but however skillful and knowledgeable that calling was, it also seemed to me somewhat mechanical. My ideas were narrow, I suppose: I didn't realize how creative medicine could be. But I turned away from medicine; and as by this time I was already dating, I knew that a religious vocation was not for me. In its place, I began to view my love of debate as pointing toward a new calling—-to the law, where I could indulge that enthusiasm to the full.

When I first started thinking about becoming a lawyer, I feared I might be swamped with rote memorization and obscure statutes. Nonetheless, I took some college courses in American history and in American Constitutional history, and realized that I had underestimated the subject. It still wasn't until law school that I saw how richly philosophical the legal profession could be.

Both in college and law school, my fascination with Western civilization blossomed. I came to believe that the great contributions of Western thinking—political and religious freedom, elected leaders, the importance of private property, a free economic system—shared a common root, all evolving from the idea of the dignity of the human being. It makes sense that a society that believes in the rights and value of the individual human being allows citizens to elect their leaders, to decide what to believe, to stake claims to better lives. What fascinated me about democracy was that it did not come ready-formed: it had to be invented.


Even during his illness, readers can feel the stamina he brought to his work, because he was doing work that he loves. Leadership tells the story about how one leader did what he did, but offers a lot of insight to all leaders about how to do what it takes to lead people.


Steve Hopkins, February 28, 2003


ă 2003 Hopkins and Company, LLC


The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the March 2003 issue of Executive Times

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