Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Leadership

Publisher’s Weekly said of Leadership, “This highly anticipated book from New York's once controversial, now beloved former mayor opens with a gripping account of Giuliani's immediate reaction to the September 11 attacks, including a narrow escape from the original crisis command headquarters, and closes with the efforts to address the aftermath during his remaining four months in office. But, he argues, he did not suddenly become a great leader on September 11, and "had been doing [my] best to take on challenges my whole career." The bulk of the book draws on his experiences as a corporate lawyer and U.S. attorney and then as mayor. The leadership principles he champions preparation, accountability and strong self-definition chief among them come as no surprise, but the stories he uses as examples are filled with vivid scenes and organized with a veteran trial lawyer's flair for maximum effect. Apart from a few childhood anecdotes, he shies away from his personal life and recalls his abandoned Senate campaign against Hillary Clinton only as one factor in his decisions about dealing with prostate cancer. Throughout, he displays the hands-on management that marked his administration, including his willingness to respond swiftly and in person to crises, to prove that he could be relied on when the city needed him most. While some critics found his style too aggressive, he has an effective counterargument: "Before September 11, there were those who said we were being overly concerned [about security]," he observes. "We didn't hear that afterwards..”

One reader of Leadership said, “It seems everybody on Earth has either written a leadership book (e.g., Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Dell, the Who-Moved-My-Cheese Guy) or had one written about them (e.g., Ghingis Khan, Jesus, Blue's Clues). So it's awfully presumptuous, our great admiration for his last months of leadership as NYC's mayor notwithstanding, for Rudy Giuliani to call his leadership book LEADERSHIP.

But what is Rudy Giuliani if not presumptuous, audacious, in-your-face? And, in the final analysis, the book delivers. Big time. There is great advice here, as there is in most books about leadership and management, but the richness of Giuliani's book is the texture, illustrating the points with fascinating "inside" stories from a career that merited giving this kind of advice even if he had not become "our Churchill" after September 11.

In fact, one of the great joys of this book, and a great piece of information to remember, is that Giuliani started writing this book well before the events of 9-11. Our lasting image of him is as a universally loved leader and stateman who transcended politics, but Rudy didn't GET to that position by accident. He knew when to fight, when to coddle, when to get tough, when to mend fences, when to take an unpopular position, when to take risks. He was an incredibly effective, though controversial, prosecutor, and an incredibly effective, though controversial, mayor. This book tells you all the stories, and shows you why he was so successful. Absolutely, the September 11 stuff is gripping, maybe the best material we can get our hands on about the event. But this was no quickie project designed to capitalize on the mayor's strength during that crisis.

This book was a long time coming, as was Giuliani's performance when the eyes of the world were on him. There is just so much great information, so many great stories, so much good advice, that you'll simultaneously find yourself rushing to take it in, and slowing down to make it last.

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