Giuliani: Preparation, Teamwork Are Keys To Leadership Success


Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Sun and its partners that preparation and teamwork are key to demonstrating successful leadership.

During his keynote address at the Sun iForce Partner Conference 2002 here Monday, the Brooklyn-born Republican appeared humble, downplaying the leadership he demonstrated after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center last year. He said his ability to handle the tragedy was the result of being prepared for such an emergency, and having the right people around him to do the job.

Giuliani said prior to Sept. 11, he was putting together a book about management and leadership, and writing down lessons he had learned firsthand. He said these lessons enabled him and other New York City leaders to handle the tragedy appropriately.

"I had an opportunity to think through how you lead when things are bad," said Giuliani.

He said New York leaders had gone through numerous drills on what to do in emergency situations, such as if anthrax was released in Madison Square Garden during a New York Knicks basketball game or, in a drill he said was eerily prophetic, a poisonous gas attack during a political rally in the shadows of the World Trade Center.

Referring to the events of Sept. 11, Giuliani said that though he and other New York leaders had "never anticipated that kind of attack," the emergency drills gave him the knowledge and skills to react accordingly on the day of the disaster.

"For the first couple of minutes, or an hour or so, I kept thinking, 'This is uncharted territory,' " said Giuliani. "But I began to think [as the day progressed, 'Wait, we have been through it before, just not in this way.' "

He said this kind of preparation not only applies in political leadership but also in business situations, and that the country as a whole should be better prepared for the worst-case scenario.

"Almost everything executed well has enormous preparation," said Giuliani. "Even if you don't have to face a horrible attack, it helps you run everything better."

He said when he took office in 1993, New York City faced two tremendous problems: a high crime rate and a massive budget deficit.

"There was a lack of hope [in the city. People were dispirited," he said. "I had to straighten out both quickly."

Because of his extensive experience fighting crime as Associate Deputy Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for New York, Giuliani said he knew how to tackle the first problem.

But he said he did not know much about how to resolve the budget issue, which is why he "deliberately hired more people and deferred more to them" to solve that problem.

"You have to fill in weak spots with strong people," he said.

Giuliani added, "You can be a good communicator, a salesperson who is effective at presenting an argument, but you might not be as good at details."

He also advised anyone in management to consistently ask themselves how they are faring emotionally in their positions, and learn how to achieve balance to be more effective.

Giuliani stressed how essential it is to remember that no one person is ever responsible for the success of an organization. He used a sports analogy,though not one about his widely known favorite sport, baseball. "Leadership is not about one person any more than it is on the football field only about the quarterback," he said.

Giuliani also did some stumping for President George W. Bush when asked if he would run for president in the 2004 election as a Republican candidate.

"I know who my candidate is in 2004; it's President Bush," said Giuliani, adding that no matter what else happens in the Bush presidency, Bush will always be great for helping the nation deal with the Sept. 11 tragedy.