“Leadership” by Rudolph Giuliani

‘Leadership’ is Rudolph Giuliani’s 2002 bestseller. The book basically spans a variety of issues and gives a brief biography of Rudolph Giuliani. It explains a number of popular leadership techniques and gives practical examples.

After a brief opening, where Rudolph Giuliani explains to the reader the purpose of writing the book, the discussion moves on to the proceedings that took place on 11th September 2001. Despite the book being about leadership, this is a fantastic place to begin the narration. This is because the book was written in the period after the September 11th terrorist attacks when Rudolph Giuliani was a mayor of New York City. The writing of the book might have begun before the terrorist attacks, but Giuliani chooses to include a description of the events, the consequences, his actions, and the recovery process. Giuliani gives the reader a leader’s perspective of the terrorist attacks.

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Giuliani gives a heartbreaking and gut-wrenching description of the September 11th terrorist attacks as he experienced them. Additional stories by Giuliani’s staff bring in a unique dimension to the story. Empathy from the reader that shows that Giuliani relates with the common problems that face ordinary Americans appears on this part of the story too. Being the mayor of New York City meant that he was at the frontline of all major discussions bout the terrorist attacks. Giuliani manages to keep the reader interested by throwing in a few 9/11 anecdotes.

This, however, does not sidetrack Giuliani from the main purpose of the book – leadership. He uses this incident to tell the reader how his leadership techniques were put to use in this period of overwhelming chaos. Giuliani also demonstrates his lead by example type of style. He says he won’t ask anyone to do something he would not do. He demonstrated this during the terrorist attacks on the WorldTradeCenter in 2001. Long conversations and longer hours took most time of day, and he did not ask anyone to work more than he did.

During this period of time, he displayed his loyalty regarding those people who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the public.The second part of the book mainly focuses on Giuliani’s favored leadership style. He discusses leadership comprehensively in fourteen chapters. In each chapter, he explains a method or quality that makes a good leader. This range from the common and predictable techniques such as “prepare relentlessly and surround yourself with great people” to more practical techniques like “under-promise but over-deliver” and finally to rather unexpected though useful methods (“bribe only those who will stay bribed”). While explaining the methods he used in governance and management, Giuliani includes a number of personal anecdotes.

For instance, in the chapter about preparing relentlessly, Giuliani tells about his experiences as an advocate and the advice he received from a judge. Giuliani goes further to talk about the Compstat law enforcement system and how it brought accountability to the New York Police Department. The chapter ‘bribe only those who will stay bribed’, in spite of having a sleazy title, is about loyalty, trust, and friendship. Giuliani recommends that in order to be a good leader, one must try as much as possible to deal with trustworthy people.However, Giuliani’s book is plagued by a few problems.

First of all, it is his self-absorption and oversimplification of matters as seen from the book filled with personal anecdotes; he actually spends less time on leadership methods. As a result of the lengthy self-absorbed narratives the leadership advices sometimes come off as oversimplified. Furthermore, Giuliani has focused more on his success stories excluding the cases when he was not successful. The book would have benefited from having a partial focus on some of his practical failures and reasons why his leadership techniques failed. From the book, one can tell that Giuliani is very conceptually and technically proficient in terms of his approach towards leadership; at the same time, he is less adept concerning his human characteristics and skills.