America’s mayor has been put to the test many times. He led the takedown of the mob and took the lead after 9/11. Here are three ways to become a great leader.

Leadership by Rudolph W. Giuliani
Leadership by Rudolph W. Giuliani

Once upon a time, there was a pair of young boy foraging in the forest. They couldn’t have been more than six-years-old. They heard a rustling sound from a bush. Then a hissing was heard. Neither boy had heard those sounds before. They didn’t know what they were.

They approached the bush. A venomous snake burst forward, biting one of the boys. The bitten boy took off running and screaming. The other boy followed close behind. They ran towards the spot they had last seen their group. The bitten boy fell and died before reaching the others. 

The story could end there. It was common for people to die to snake venom. But the young boy did something no other human had done before.

The boy acted out what happened, using motions and sounds. He hopped up and down, shook a bush, and mimicked a hissing sound. Then pointed to the dead boy.

The others understood. Hissing and rustling sounds were bad. If anyone heard those sounds, they were to run away as fast as they could. Thus, the story was born.  

You Are Who You Surround Yourself With

Great leaders on Mount Rushmore
Great leaders on Mount Rushmore
Photo from Pexels

Since we learn through stories, paying attention to others is of vital importance. Each of us shares a part of us with others. The smarter among us take full advantage of the experiences of others. They change their ways according to what they observe.

All leaders are influenced by those they admire. Reading about them and studying their development inevitably allows an aspiring leader to grow his own leadership traits.

Leadership by Rudolph W. Giuliani, pg. xiv

Going beyond observation, studying someone else’s moves, ponder their motives, and considering their environment will go along way. It’s rare to know our heroes personally, but someone knew them and shared their stories. More often than not, this information is contained in a book.

Books are the best medium when it comes to diving deep into someone’s life. Movies can give you a superficial overview, but books take you inside the minds of some of the greatest leaders on the planet. Do yourself a favor and get a book on every great leader you admire.

Books are the best medium when it comes to diving deep into someone’s life.

Do you want to be a leader? In business, at home, or among your group of friends. It feels good to be in charge. It also carries a lot of weight. Learn from leaders of the past. Get tips on how to handle the stresses of leadership. Learn how to make wise decisions and how to carry those decisions out.

Getting others to trust and follow you is as much a science as it is an art. Learning from master leaders is a great place to start. Because of your studiousness, you will grow as a leader.

Nothing Beats the Firsthand Experience

Ground Zero. Get your hands dirty.
Ground Zero. Get your hands dirty.
U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Eric J. Tilford. / Public domain

I only know what I’ve heard are some famous last words. Those said before a bad decision is made. Sometimes we have to make decisions on second-hand information. But often, we don’t. We can read or learn. But even reading a book isn’t the best way to learn.

While mayor, I made it my policy to see with my own eyes the scene of every crisis so I could evaluate it firsthand.

Leadership by Rudolph W. Giuliani, pg. 4

Always favor seeing things firsthand. Rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. Don’t shy away from the action. Make it a point to be in the thick of things. There are many benefits to experiencing. Rarely do we learn more by not seeing the event ourselves.

  • You don’t have to rely on someone else’s interpretation. Their interpretation may give you a clouded judgment.
  • Take in all the details someone else might not share. Pay attention to those little details. Even the ones that don’t make sense. Let them stay in the back of your mind.
  • Show others that you are not afraid to do what they do. You are not afraid to be where they’ve been.

Trust Your Gut

Trust yourself before all others.
Trust yourself before all others.
[My picture – delete credit]

Aside from learning from others, there is one person you most certainly can trust. That person is you. Trust in yourself. Trust in your own life experiences. Your life experiences will not fail you. Trust in your gut.

There’s no substitute for personal life experience when it comes to dealing with problems.

Leadership by Rudolph W. Giuliani, pg. xiv

These life lessons generally come bubbling up from the gut. While the brain will tell you to be rational and allow you to learn from others, your own life experience comes from the gut. It works on the Boolean method. True or false. Right or wrong. On or off. 

This is a powerful lesson that I learned early in life. Trust your first instinct. Trust your first answer. Don’t second guess yourself. Your body process all the information you have picked up over the years and spits out a Boolean response. You’ll know it in your gut. 


These are the lessons that Rudolph W. Giuliani imparted on me when I read the intro and first chapter of his book, Leadership. Giuliani is a great leader. We can do worse by studying others. These lessons of studying other leaders, seeing it first hand, and trusting your gut; will go along way to making you a better leader.