mark sullivan

The science of leadership

Did you know that the U.S. Secret Service Tweets?  Actually, they aren’t giving away any national secrets. Twitter is mostly a marketing tool for the institution mandated by Congress to carry out two significant objectives: protection and investigation.

The Secret Service is known for utilizing the latest technology in achieving its directive.  And it uses current media tools in reaching talented individuals with leadership qualities and good character.  

Mark Sullivan

What’s it take to be a leader?  Mark Sullivan, Director of the U.S. Secret Service, has it down to a science.  He says it all about the 3 “c”s and a “d”. Sullivan spoke before a group at The Ohio State University recently.

Every good leader, according to Sullivan, embodies the qualities of caring, courage, confidence, and decision making.  These attributes are what the Service looks for in recruits. The Secret Service currently employs 7000.  And these same qualities aptly describe leaders in all areas of life Sullivan says.

At the top of his list of good character: caring. A genuine concern for others and the capacity to listen are fundamental to leadership according to Sullivan.

Courage goes beyond the expected bravery in a good leader.  It also includes a moral mettle.  Sullivan acknowledges we are all tested.

A leader has to be confident in his/her decisions, often going with the inner voice, the initial impulse when confronted in a situation. He cited trust and communication as essential ingredients of a well-rounded individual.

Sullivan, himself a family man with a student attending OSU, has been the recipient of numerous awards for superior performance throughout his 30-year career in federal law enforcement.  He was also awarded a 2005 Distinguished Presidential Rank Award.

When I asked him what in his life sparked the leadership qualities he embodies, he paused for a moment and concluded that part of it was the heroism he witnessed on TV that fateful day on November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

He saw a man jump up onto Kennedy’s presidential limousine in an attempt to protect the president.  That man was Clint Hill, a United States Secret Service agent.  Hill is the last surviving passenger of the limousine which sped off to Parkland Memorial Hospital after the shooting.

Sullivan still talks to Hill, his boyhood hero who retired in 1975. 

 CCCD: Caring, courage, confidence, and decision making.   Sullivan and the rest of the country observed each attribute in Hill’s actions that day.  It’s no wonder Sullivan admires those characteristics.  They made a lasting impression on many Americans.  It’s what we admire in true leadership. Let’s tweet that!

S Salt

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