Monday, May 14, 2007
Rally Toward the Future

Prior September 11 Rudy Giuliani had the lowest approval rate of any mayor ever to take residence at Gracie Mansion. His eye was off the New York ball since he was immersed in his run for the Senate, he was in the midst of an acrimonious divorce and his relationship with city officials was strained. Yet on 911 he managed to win back the support of the city with just 8 words. What did he say? How could just one sentence transform the attitudes of twelve million people? Not long after the second tower fell, Giuliani was asked what the final body count was. His response was astounding. Any politician might have said, "We do not have that information at this time," or "Our sources are still tabulating the results," or any number of other dispassionate replies. But what Giuliani said aligned him to the people, won back their trust and demonstrated his understanding and commitment. This is what he said: "I do not know what the final number will be, but I know it will be more than we can bear."

By uttering those words Giuliani demonstrated that he understood what every New Yorker was going through. At that moment the sentiment toward the mayor turned. At some level, maybe instinctual or visceral, Giuliani knew that his job was to connect with the emotions of the people and rally them toward a better future.

As Marcus Buckingham, author of Break All the Rules says, "Great managers discover what is unique about individuals and capitalize on it, great leaders discover what is universal and capitalize on that." No matter how impressive a leader’s experience and accomplishments if they lack empathy they will be unable to instigate change. A great leader must speak constantly of the future in a sincere and passionate way. They must paint vivid pictures of the future coming to pass. This is what will motivate the workforce. This is what will transform the drudgery of their workday into an extraordinary journey toward the achievement of worthwhile goals.


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