Bob Miano's Blog

An Executive journal

Transformative Leadership by Rudy Giuliani

I take great excitement from writing this blog and announcing that Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City, will provide the keynote address at the 2014 Harvey Nash Leadership Lecture, to be held from 7:30-10:30 a.m. on March 4, 2014 at The Plaza Hotel, New York.

In the months leading up to our event, I will be writing a series of blog posts on the subject of transformative leadership, our event theme. My hope is to explore how great leaders such as Rudy are able to transform the environment around them, and to uncover what transformative lessons we can take from their experiences to implement in our own organizations.

As Rudy will be our keynote speaker at The Plaza on March 4th, I thought it fitting to start this blog series with some analysis of his unique leadership style. I have had a front row seat to much of Rudy's career. I grew up and built my own career in and around New York at the same time Rudy began his vocation as a young U.S. Attorney in the 1970s and 80s, I witnessed his transformative tenure as Mayor, and was proud to see him become a Presidential candidate and the global figure he is today.

Based on more than four decades, in which I've regularly observed Rudy demonstrate outstanding personal bravery in his leadership roles, he has inspired those who work for him and subsequently enabled them to perform feats of institutional bravery and achievement. For example, long before the terrible events of September 11, 2001 thrust him into the global media spotlight, Rudy was exhibiting leadership as a young man. Only 29-years-old, as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Rudy led successful efforts against organized crime, securing 4,152 convictions with only 25 reversals, yet often placing himself and his team of public prosecutors in great personal danger.

Those who recall the New York of the 1970s and 1980s will know it wasn't like the New York we enjoy today with our families and colleagues. Not even close. I worked at the New York Public Library for two years while in high school, getting to the library near 42nd Street meant running the gauntlet of aggressive panhandlers, pornography vendors and uncollected trash. Certainly not an image to help attract business investment and growth.

In 1993, Rudy was elected Mayor of New York City. Campaigning on the slogan "One City, One Standard," he focused on reducing crime, reforming welfare, and improving the quality of life for residents. In 1997, he was re-elected with 57% of the vote in a city in which Democrats outnumbered Republicans five to one. His tough and pragmatic personal leadership style cut through city bureaucracy. A willingness to honestly, even bluntly, express his frustration when reform was not occurring fast enough mirrored the feelings of many New Yorkers and endeared Rudy to voters from across the political spectrum. He had earned their trust.

Under Rudy's leadership, overall crime was cut by 56%, murder was cut by 66%, and New York City-- once considered the crime capital of the country--became the safest large city in America according to the FBI. Rudy literally transformed a city. So much so, that I felt confident relocating the Harvey Nash New York office to a revitalized East 42nd Street. A far cry from the 42nd Street Rudy had inherited.

On September 11, 2001, America suffered the worst attack in its history when terrorists crashed planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Thousands of New Yorkers were killed, including hundreds of members of the city's uniformed services, who rushed to the scene to lead the heroic rescue of tens of thousands of people. Having narrowly missed being crushed when the Towers fell, Mayor Giuliani immediately began leading the recovery of the city as it faced its darkest hour.

Rudy was widely lauded for his steady hand during challenging times. He was named "Person of the Year" by TIME magazine, knighted by the Queen of England, dubbed "Rudy the Rock" by French President Jacques Chirac. When it counted the most, Rudy's personal brand of brave leadership was pressed into service.

His tireless efforts in the days, weeks, and months after September 11 placed Rudy in a vaulted category of leaders that, in my opinion, few will ever reach. Reassuring, pragmatically tough, and inspiring in equal measure, Rudy rallied the city around him while it was reeling from a body blow.

After earning the trust not just of New Yorkers, but of American's everywhere, Rudy ran for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2008. During his campaign, he galvanized the national debate on such critical issues as national security, education, energy independence, healthcare, and the economy.

Transformative leadership can take many forms: energizing an underperforming team, growing a business into new markets or industries, reforming local or national government departments, responding to world events and leading in times of crisis. Rudy's legacy will include many of those achievements, physically transforming a city described as ungovernable into a city that is now a worldwide example of good government and effective management.

Brave, personal leadership is difficult. It can bring as many enemies as admirers. However, as we've seen Rudy demonstrate, staying true to your values, speaking honestly, and leading by example are character traits that can inspire the people who work for you and can help transform your organization.

The 2014 Harvey Nash Leadership Lecture with Rudy Giuliani, at The Plaza Hotel, New York from 7:30-10:30 a.m. on March 4, 2014, is an invitation only event. If you are interested in learning more, please email your details to Huong Thai, huong.thai@harveynashusa.com