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Jeh Charles Johnson was born on September 11, 1957, in the city of New York. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College and a Juris Doctor from Columbia University (Bone & Courage, 2011). Johnson started his career as an attorney in New York before serving as an Assistant United States Attorney in New York’s Southern District (Gilpin & Gasman, 2003). In 1998, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton as a General Counsel in the Department of Air Force where he served for three years. In 2004, Johnson became an American College of Trial Lawyers fellow. Under the administration of President Barrack Obama, he became General Counsel for the Defense Department, a position he served till 2012 (Gill, 2014). President Barack Obama nominated him to the position of Secretary of Homeland Security in 2013 (Corn, 2015). The illustrious career of Johnson in various governmental departments and as an accomplished attorney has often shaped his actions and predilections. He is a highly experienced person in the field of homeland security, defense, and intelligence gathering. He is also a brilliant attorney whose decisions are often based on the existing laws. His brilliance saw him serve in very senior positions in government under different administrations for the past two decades. The trust that President Obama had in him was the reason why he was named the designated survivor, a position that would have seen him become the president of the United States if anything were to happen to the incumbent and possible successors. Currently, he has gone back to private practice as an attorney in the city of New York.
Analysis of Leadership Style
Analyzing Johnson’s leadership style is very important because it will help explain how he rose to the high government position of Secretary of Homeland Security. Analysis of the approach that he has been taking to address problems and handle issues in his career clearly demonstrates that he is a transformational leader. He is a person who highly values communication as a way of ensuring that organizational goals are achieved. He often involves his junior officers in decision-making processes as a way of ensuring that everyone is involved in the activities of the organization he leads. On September 11, 2001, when the United States was attacked by Al Qaeda, Johnson was celebrating his 44th birthday in his hometown of Lower Manhattan, New York. When he heard the news, he stopped his celebration and went to the streets to attend to the wounded and other survivors of the attack (Rose, 2009). At that time, he was not holding any government position. However, he felt personally responsible for the well-being of people of New York who were victims of this heinous attack. It was a clear demonstration that Johnson is not a leader who will sit back and issue commands for others to follow. He is a participatory leader who is always willing to go to all lengths to ensure that everything is done in a proper way. He knows how to listen to both his superiors and junior officers. That explains why he served in two administrations of Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama.
Strengths and Other Attributes
Jeh Charles Johnson’s greatest strength as a leader was his emotional stability. He had a unique capacity to withstand stressful situations in his career as a public servant. During the time he served as the Secretary of Homeland Security, he was faced with a number of cases of homegrown terrorism. He offered leadership at times when the country was in dire need of it. He led the team of security officers to investigate the rising cases of homegrown terrorism and to deal with them accordingly. Self-assurance is another trait that makes Johnson a good leader. He is a leader who does not allow prior mistakes to pin him down from making a decision that is needed. He believes in himself and in people he works within his organization. When he was the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, he helped come up with the policy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to help stop the discrimination against LGBT people that was rampant in the military (Boon & Lovelace, 2014). At that time, the United States military had strict policies that prohibited gay practices in the United States Armed Forces. The issue was very emotive at that time, but Johnson was tough enough to influence policy change in the military. He and the Army General Carter Ham were able to come up with new policies that liberated gays in the service. For the first time after so many years of the ban, gays and lesbians were allowed to join the service. In order to have a compromise position between the supporters and those opposed to the practice, it was agreed that no one would ask an officer whether or not he or she is gay. It was no longer one of the issues that determined one’s qualifications to join the service. That was true leadership that he demonstrated.
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Boon, K., & Lovelace, D. C. (2014). The domestic use of unmanned aerial vehicles. New York, NY: Cengage.
Corn, G. S. (2015). The war on terror and the laws of war: A military perspective. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.
Gill, T. D. (2014). Yearbook of international humanitarian law: Volume 15, 2012. London, UK: McMillan Publishers
Gilpin, P. J., & Gasman, M. (2003). Charles S. Johnson: Leadership beyond the veil in the age of Jim Crow. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Rose, A. C. (2009). Psychology and selfhood in the segregated South. Chapel Hill, NY: University of North Carolina Press.