Skip to main content

Leadership In A Crisis – Leadership Lessons From Rudi Giuliani.

By February 15, 2011February 14th, 2019Articles, leadership, Leadership

You’ve heard me mention that we are in a leadership crisis. I’m sure you have identified it also. We recently ran a webinar ‘What Business Leaders Can Learn From A Leader Facing Disaster’, highlighting the outstanding leadership of Queensland Premier Anna Bligh during the natural disasters her State endured. I also highlighted another outstanding example of leadership in crisis. Rudi Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York.

On September 11, 2001 we witnessed both the destructive power of evil leadership and the resilient power of heroic leadership by the New York Fire and Police Departments and countless others. Rudi Giuliani was a key contributor to providing hope to his city, demonstrating resilience and a standard of leadership that is admirable.

Similar to Anna Bligh by all accounts, Rudi didn’t have a great reputation before the disaster. He was described as lame and lazy! So not only did he have to claw back his reputation he had to improve and build on it dramatically. His actions during the disaster of 9/11 certainly did that. In these times, leaders have the choice to sit back and allow others to do what is required, or get out there, be hands on and stand tall.

In just 111 days he did that. He emerged as a formidable leader, standing tall and was the embodiment of the Manhattan spirit. Rudi Giuliani was voted Time Magazines Person of the Year. That is an amazing achievement. That takes courage.

In his book titled Leadership, Giuliani writes, "It is in times of crisis that good leaders emerge."

Giuliani demonstrated that during times of crisis, leaders must do four critical things: be highly visible, composed, vocal, and resilient.

1.     Visible – he speaks of being there in person and surveying with your own eyes what is going on. During a crisis leaders must be out front rather than hiding from the ordeal.

2.     Composed – He writes ”Leaders have to control their emotions under pressure. Much of your ability to get people to do what they have to do is going to depend on what they perceive when they look at you and listen to you. They need to see someone who is stronger than they are, but human, too."

No matter how difficult things may seem you must maintain your poise under pressure. People will be looking to your face as well as tuning into the tone of your voice to determine whether they should panic or remain calm; to give in or maintain hope.

3.     Vocal – In addition to being visible and composed, leaders must step up in an effort to calm people down and communicate with them. You must speak up and take charge of what people are thinking and feeling at the time. You must reassure them and give them a simple yet specific plan that will get people through the crisis. Outline important action steps that they can take immediately to help themselves and the team.

4.     Resilience – Give your team a sense of hope. Let them know that they have the ability to make it through the crisis.

It doesn’t take a crisis of catastrophic proportions for a leader to stand up and ‘be’ these things. In the leadership crisis we are enduring, if leaders looked in the mirror and accepted responsibility for where they are at, and stood tall, this would go a long way to turning the crisis around. Courage is what is required.