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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Board Lessons from Time’s 2001 Person of the Year
Robert C. Harris, CAE

October, 2004

I never considered NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a model for association leaders. His past few years included stories of moving from the Governor's Mansion, a mistress, city incidents of police brutality, cancer, withdrawal from the US Senate race, divorce, and marriage to Ms. Judith S. Nathan. Judith. Giuliani is a Managing Director of Changing Our World, Inc.

Time named him its “Person of the Year.” Some of his leadership traits can apply to how association boards interact with members: visibility, flexibility, collaboration, honesty, inspirational, time management, strategic and communication.

He was one of the first persons on national television as the tragedy occurred…President Bush was hidden in a bunker or on an airliner. As the buildings collapsed he was holding a press conference on the run, literally. Do your members know where your organization stands on important issues? Are your mission and goals visible to members and prospects?

Within 90 minutes of the terrorist attacks, the mayor had moved his emergency management headquarters three times. (The original offices were destroyed.) Within 36 hours he transformed a 125,000 square foot facility into a center for relatives of the missing. How flexible is your leadership in responding to issues?

St. Paul's Church was transformed into a rest center at Ground Zero. Through collaboration, the mayor rallied podiatrists, massage therapists, chiropractors, counselors and clergy to serve rescuers. Does your board use collaboration to best position the organization?

When asked about the deaths Giuliani stated, “There will be more bodies than anyone can bear.” He did not provide slippery answers. Other government officials couldn't answer questions about the dangers of anthrax and provide inaccurate information. Do members see your leadership as open and honest with them?

He was the example of inspiration as he attended more than 200 citizen funerals and wakes, giving eulogy after eulogy. He went to the World Series so that America would know NYC was safe. He showed that he was a leader with a human touch. Does your leadership visit with the members? Are the messages inspiring?

Time Management
In the busy weeks after September 11 th , he managed to be responsible for the city, attend to citizens on a personal level, and hold daily press conferences, while still getting to his son's football games and daughter's play. Time management is a trait to seek when nominating board candidates.

Strategic Thinker
He anticipated needs. Within hours of the collapse of the World Trade Center he was requesting fighter jets and thousands of body bags. He was able to think on his feet regarding immediate and long-term needs. How strategic is your leadership?

He announced to the world that NYC would survive and declared the city open for business during an appearance on the comedy show "Saturday Night . How clearly and promptly do members hear from your association when critical issues and achievements occur?

Much can be learned from the man dubbed Mayor of the World. Some of his leadership skills easily translate into lessons for association boards.

Robert C. Harris offers board orientation and strategic planning. Contact him at or 850/570-6000. (


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