It’s interesting how often Rudy Giuliani gets cited by books about leadership. He’s invoked as if he’s an unarguable archetype. For me this highlights a deep flaw running through most of what’s written about leadership, which I think is a displacement of a whole bundle of feelings. We invoke heroes to absolve ourselves of responsbility, or as a confused effort to take control.

Anyway, whether you agree with the points made in this YouTube or not, it certainly should make you pause before buying into hero worship.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan

1 thought on “Leadership?

  1. Jack Yan

    Again without commenting politically—after all, whomever Americans vote in is hardly up to me—I remember being in New York mere weeks before 9-11. Mr Giuliani was pretty much portrayed, then, as a lame-duck mayor (based on my observation of the New York media), dogged by health and marital problems. (My friends there could not foresee that Michael Bloomberg would be in the running to succeed him.)

       After 9-11, Mr Giuliani’s image turned 180 degrees. I do not recall any one event that saw to that; just that there was a sense of familiarity with Mr Giuliani, who appeared religiously at each press conference. People turned to him and all of a sudden, his issues vanished. Having returned to New Zealand by then, I had no sense of the “Giuliani magic”.

       I know in times of tragedy, we turn to the familiar. American television commercials all flew Old Glory. The number of people praying shot up dramatically. And Mr Giuliani was among the familiar, the media broadcasting a heroic if outgoing mayor, holding the city together, as a means of comforting a nation still in shock.

       To be fair, perhaps Mr Giuliani is a great man to have in times of crisis. Sometimes we need a person who can be calm under pressure, and perhaps he deserves some of the fêting he got, and that he can comfortably rely on his legacy in those horrible weeks as firefighters and cops were buried, usually with empty caskets.

       Still, I agree with the motives of the Union: that the truth needs to be known and six years on, we can probably examine Mr Giuliani’s record far more clearly. You are right, Johnnie: we should not buy into hero worship unquestioned, and certainly the reasons that Mr Giuliani was seen as a lame-duck mayor prior to 9-11 may still be valid today.


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