ADM. MULLEN Well, I’m not sure. I wouldn’t disagree
with that, but I wasn’t just trying to generate headlines.
I was trying to focus on groups that I thought were
very critical to the future of the Navy. In that, we were
behind, even in 2005. I came from these race riots that
we had in the late 1960s. We had made a lot of prog-
ress, but there was still a long way to go. That’s the rea-
son I focused on African Americans and women so
Those factors that you bring up are all critical from
the standpoint of moving the military forward in these
extraordinarily challenging times. We are sitting here
a couple of days before the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.
We have been through more than I think we probably
even realize in fighting two wars over the course of this
I grew up on the deck plate. I grew up in the bowels
of a ship. I grew up with the troops.
As a leader, I needed to understand what made them tick.
specifically: to make sure that all the leaders in the Navy
would understand, first of all, what my priority was, and
secondly, that I would evaluate them on their support of
VISCONTI In reading your speeches online and the
items on your website, the words “trust,” “candor,”
and “reliability” are constant themes. How have you
used those themes to solve management problems and
improve effectiveness both within the Navy and as the
AVOIDING BREACHES OF TRUST
ADM. MULLEN When talking about the chairman’s job,
the issue of trust has been fundamental to relationship
building—that is an absolute requirement globally—
around the world with my counterparts in the militaries throughout the world. And not having it, whether
between the military or between the countries, is a real
challenge. Obviously, I spent a lot of time in a relationship with Pakistan. It really is the breach of trust with
Pakistan that’s happened several times that makes that
so difficult, yet it is a critical relationship.
Also part of the challenge of being chairman is having strong relationships with all my four-star colleagues
in all the services. They know generally (and this is
my style) that I trust them and I have expectations for
them. They, clearly from my perspective, have responded to that.
I would even expand that to the candor piece. I try
to be very straight, very clear on what my priorities are
and in responding to questions or issues, and there are
tons of them all the time.
But a part of that has also been that all of us are
accountable. I hold myself accountable for my responsibilities here, and I need and want other leaders, other
military leaders, to do the same thing.
women, and quite frankly, I certainly couldn’t have
done this job without tremendous support from the
other Joint Chiefs and other four-stars. I certainly tend
to trust them. I work hard to develop that trust, but I
also have expectations that we execute our missions
together, and I feel good about having moved forward in
these extraordinarily challenging times.
VISCONTI To pull the threads together, the trust, candor, effectiveness and diversity, could you give me your
thoughts about your development of those equitable
relationships across race and gender?
ADM. MULLEN For me, it’s so easy and so central to
focus on people—that literally has nothing to do with
race and gender. This is an organization, and certainly the military needs talent. I’ve also found that there’s
no surefire equation that you just plug in to generate an
answer for talent. Finding the right people for the right
jobs is as hard as anything that I do, not just in this job.
I’ve certainly come to understand that over the last 10
to 15 years in significant leadership positions. I spend
a lot of time on that, and I depend on outcomes with
respect to that. If I can get the right person, whatever
their background is, into the right spot, I can make my
organization safe. If I don’t do that, if I miss that, particularly at the senior level, I’m down two or three years
of progress, two or three years of effectiveness, two or
three years in my mission at the three- and four-star
level at a hugely significant cost to that organization, to
my organization, and to the people in it.
From the standpoint of focusing on how to make that
happen, to include those who are African American or
Latino, or gays and lesbians for that matter, or women,
or whoever it is, I’m interested in getting the right talent, giving someone an opportunity. Then everybody
gets to rise or fall based on how they perform once
they’re in a position like that. I