When I was in the Navy, I’m not sure how much I respected Admirals. I certainly feared them - I got that instilled in me at the Naval Academy. But I think I was caught up in this mindset of: it’s inevitable that I get promoted from O-1 to O-2, and from O-2 to O-3… so it can’t be that hard to make it to flag rank. In the ten years since I left the Navy, my respect for senior officers and flag rank officers has grown exponentially. I’ve seen how difficult it can be to reach the top of any organization - civilian, government or military. And I admire the determination, talent, and intelligence required to achieve these pinnacle leadership echelons.
Today’s interview only served to reinforce that respect. Admiral Mullen served as Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff under both President Bush and President Obama. I was fascinated to hear what it is like to work at this level, and a lot of the principles of leadership that helped Admiral Mullen achieve success.
We also talked about leadership of the Beyond the Uniform audience - how we, as leaders, can look out for the men and women we served with, and how we can pay forward the benefits we’ve experienced in our careers.
About Admiral Mullen:
Fast Company has called Admiral Mullen “not just a new model for military officers-and a new kind of business titan-but also a case study in 21st Century leadership.”
Since retiring from the Navy, Mullen has joined the boards of General Motors, Sprint and the Bloomberg Family Foundation. He teaches at the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He is also known for his efforts on behalf of service members, veterans and their families. He is renowned for his role in dismantling “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allowing gay service members to serve openly.