NEW YORK — The Hon. Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York, addressed the eighth grade at St. David’s School on leadership in the school assembly hall Thursday evening.
The program which included remarks by the school Headmaster David O’Halloran and an introduction by his Giuliani’s law partner Daniel Connolly, was part of the school’s Alumni Parent Council annual lecture program. Giuliani’s son Andrew attended the school as a boy.
About 350 students, parents, and alumni packed the venue to hear the former mayor, who was widely praised for his leadership after the attacks of September 11, 2001, speak about the principals of leadership.
Giuliani said that a clear vision was the indispensable first principal of leadership.
“You have to know what you believe,” he said. “If you don’t know what you believe, you can’t lead people anywhere.”
The former mayor pointed to Ronald Regan’s belief that state socialism was an international evil and that a government grown too large was sapping the strength and vitality of the American people as an example of this.
“Whether or not you agree with him,” Giuliani said. “Regan knew what he believed. He had reflected on his own experience and drawn conclusions about what needed to be done.”
This meant that Regan knew where he wanted to go and was able to keep in perspective the occasional disagreement of the majority of the populace and forge ahead, he said.
The second principal of leadership is optimism, the former mayor said.
“To be a leader you have to be an optimist,” he said. “You can’t say, ‘things are bad, they are going to get worse, and there is no hope, Follow me!’”
While acknowledging that demagogues often abused the optimistic principal of leadership, Giuliani said it was an important aspect of the art of leadership. He pointed to Sir. Winston L. S. Churchill’s war time speeches a positive example of optimistic leadership.
“The British and French armies had been defeated, the nation was under threat of invasion, and the cities were being bombed every night,” he said. “Every night was like September 11th. People went to bed and didn’t know whether they would wake up in the morning or if their neighbor’s house would be blown up when they did.”
“Churchill was able to be optimistic when there wasn’t much to be optimistic about,” he said. “He spoke of the special ability of a free people to preserver.”
The third principal of leadership, Giuliani said is Courage.
“Courage doesn’t mean not being afraid,” he said. “We often think of courageous people as being supper human, but that’s wrong.”
The former mayor recalled a heroic police officer who had risked his life in the line of duty, but had been almost paralyzed with fear during a press conference after meeting with the mayor. That event, Giuliani said was a revelation for him.
“Courage is dealing with fear,” he said. “It is training to meet the feared responsibilities that you have undertaken.”
That leads to the fourth principal, relentless preparation, the former mayor said.
“It is relentless preparation which allows you to over come your fears,” he said.
Giuliani related how that though New York had no plans for terrorists using air plains as missiles to destroy buildings, the fact that the city did have plans to deal with suicide bombings, sky scrapper fires, and major medical emergencies, meant that he and his senior advisors were able to meet the crisis.
He was able to activate part of the plan for dealing with suicide bombers to order police to guard possible secondary terrorist targets, while the parts of plans for major medical emergencies was activated to triage casualties at near by hospitals and then transfer people to hospitals further uptown, the former mayor said.
Because he and many other city employees had prepared for other crises, they were able to improvise to meet the September 11th attacks, Giuliani said. He said the relentless preparation for other crises, was his main source of confidence on the day of the attacks.
He said, the fifth principal of leadership is understanding your weaknesses. Giuliani said that when he became mayor, he knew that improving the economy and fighting crime where his two most important tasks. He said he knew how to fight crime from his years as a prosecuting attorney, but that he knew he would need help with economic matters. Because he knew his weakness, he was able to get the advice he needed, the former mayor said.
The sixth principal of leadership, he said is communication. However he said that if you followed the first five principals, all you had to do was be strait with people and you would communicate your vision.
Caring about people, Giuliani said is the seventh principal of leadership. However, he emphasized this did not mean doing what people want.
The former mayor related who he was vilified for his workfare program under which able bodied welfare recipients were made to do 18 hours of work for the city to receive their benefits. He said he believed it was not helping the recipients to let them lose their work ethic and pride in working.
Above all, he said caring about people means that, “when things go wrong, you need to be their.”
In answering questions after his talk, Giuliani said that one of the pieces of advice that helped him most on September 11, was something his father had told him as a child. In time of danger and panic it is best remain calm or pretend to remain calm, because that is most likely going to result in seeing a way out of the problem, he said.