Written by Marcia O’Boyle, FEI EAP Services Center Manager

In my opinion, the epitome of leadership during a crisis is former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. His calm and calming presence in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack on his city led not only New York, but the entire nation. In his book, Leadership, Giuliani identifies four specific characteristics to embrace when leading during a crisis.

The first, he says, is to be visible. Day after day we saw Mayor Giuliani walking on the streets of New York with his contingent of staff and department heads while being interviewed by the media. There was no doubt about his identity as a leader.

Giuliani’s second tip is to be composed. He writes in his book, “Leaders have to control their emotions under pressure. Much of your ability to get people to do what they have to do is going to depend on what they perceive when they look at you and listen to you. They need to see someone who is stronger than they are, but human, too.”

Number three is to be vocal. He writes, “I had to communicate with the public to do whatever I could to calm people down and contribute to an orderly and safe evacuation [of lower Manhattan].”

The fourth tip in leadership during a crisis is to be resilient. Giuliani describes himself as an optimist. His words during the immediate aftermath of 9/11 gave Americans hope and belief that they would meet this challenge and overcome it.

Mayor Giuliani’s leadership was demonstrated during a massive crisis affecting millions of people, but his four tips for leading are just as applicable in crises of much smaller scale. Some crises are personal. Individuals turn to other individuals for help. Whether the helper is a friend, family member, clergy or professional counselor, Mayor Giuliani’s four crisis leadership traits are important:

Be visible.  Be composed. Be vocal. Be resilient.