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Pick Up Your Own Brass: Leadership the FBI Way Paperback – May 1, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Kathleen McChesney and Bill Gavin, both hugely credentialed FBI senior managers, detail how a diverse, unwieldy, bureaucratic, and public-spotlighted agency pulled and pushed itself to regain its place as the preeminent law enforcement agency in the world. This is a lesson plan for business and even for families. It’s an indispensable how-to for corporate success.”—Frank Keating, former governor of Oklahoma and former FBI special agent
(Frank Keating)

"Whether you’re an aspiring leader, a mid-level manager, or a senior executive, Pick Up Your Own Brass is for you. Each chapter is a stand-alone lesson drawn from a quick, compelling, and clear story of real FBI leaders, warts and all, facing tough problems. As a whole, the authors describe the essence of great leadership in action.”—Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, USA (Ret.), former commanding general, Multi-National Security Transition Command and NATO Training Mission, Iraq
(Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, USA (Ret.))

“This book is an excellent resource for academics and practitioners in a variety of disciplines. It is an especially important part of the literature on law enforcement, providing compelling examples of leadership at all levels of an organization. Students will benefit by reading about the principles of leadership and how to apply those principles to real-life situations. This is essential reading for everyone aspiring to a career in the criminal justice disciplines.”—Karen Terry, professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
(Karen Terry)

“People matter! I know personally that the authors embrace and promote this belief in their daily commitments. They have now effectively transcribed principles of life and leadership that should be the beacon for all of us.”—Terry G. Hillard, cofounder and partner, Hillard Heintze, and retired superintendent, Chicago Police Department
(Terry G. Hillard)

About the Author

Kathleen McChesney is the only female special agent to be named the Bureau’s executive assistant director. After a thirty-year career in law enforcement, she held leadership positions at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Walt Disney Company, and since 2007 she has consulted with businesses and non-profit organizations. She lives in Los Angeles.

William Gavin is a twenty-eight-year veteran of the FBI who attained the agency’s highest rank of assistant director in charge. He has held executive positions in the health care industry and for a security services provider, and has been a commentator for MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN. He currently serves as a business consultant. He lives in Boston.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books (May 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597976830
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597976831
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,392,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kathleen McChesney, Ph.D. has held unique leadership positions as a Special Agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, heading field offices in Chicago, Illinois and Portland, Oregon. In 2001 she was appointed to the FBI's third highest position - Executive Assistant Director for Law Enforcement. Following her thirty-two year law enforcement career she became the Executive Director of the Office of Child Protection for the US Catholic Bishops Conference and later joined the Walt Disney Company as Vice President for Global Security. She currently provides consulting services for businesses and faith-based institutions and serves on several non-profit boards. Kathleen has received several prestigious awards including the US President's Meritorious Achievement Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award for Women in Policing and the Hildegard Van Bingen Woman for the World Award.

William A Gavin retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after 28 years. He served as Assistant Director of New York, the Bureau's largest field office. He was also the Assistant Director of the Inspection Division of the FBI in Washington, DC,Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI Miami,FL and the Denver,CO offices. He has also served as the VP of a major health care HMO, and as VP of a half billion dollar security services provider. His consulting company, The Gavin Group, Inc., for eight years conducted compliance audits of the Catholic Church. Mr. Gavin received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Boston College and a Master of Science Degree from Fordham University. He has also attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government for Senior Managers at Harvard University Mr. Gavin received the (US) Presidential Distinguished Rank Award and the (US) Presidential Meritorious Rank Award. He is a member of the National Executive Institute and the American Society of Industrial Security. He appears on CNN, FOX and MSNBC as an analyst for terrorism and other criminal matters.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Dr Kathleen McChesney's new book is a penetrating view into the inner workings of the FBI, utilizing her vast experience as Special Agent in Charge to examine traits of effective leaders.
When I first saw the title, I was curious what this meant; "Pick Up Your Own Brass". The title is the paradigm for leadership in the FBI, one that can only be applied by somebody intimately familiar with its inner workings. Subordinates are to pick up the brass casings of superiors at the firing range, but, as Dr McChesney reiterates in high profile case after high profile case, it is not the arrogant higher-ups responsbile for FBI success. Rather, it is more likely the supervisor who picks up his own casings; he/she is probably the one who can lead by demonstrating care about the mission and its agents. Competence is necessary for leadership, the FBI way, but competetence is not sufficient. Fasincating case after case of major national significance convinces the reader of the facts that Dr McChesney was not only there, but she knows what she is talking about. I already knew that, because I was fortunate enough to have observed her work when she was a detective assigned to the Ted (Bundy) Task Force of King County Police Department. I had further contact with her when she was working cases of critical national security within the FBI. Her new book is a must read for Law Enforcement management, because it dramatically and clearly shows how very human traits of caring about one's people and one's mission can make or break a case. There has never been a time when such leadership traits are more important in this critically-challenged police agency than in today's homeland security environemtn of constant threats, both from our interior and our borders.
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I've been a friend of Kathleen McChesney and a fan of Bill Gavin for years as a fellow FBI agent and it comes as no surprise that the two of them conspired to produce a book on leadership. Both survived the long road of rigorous challenges and progressive responsibilities to become highly respected leaders in the FBI. Fortunately for the reader, they decided to share their valued experiences. It's amazing that the simplicity of picking up one's own shell casings on the firing range can form the basis for inspirational and successful leadership; but these two make it work.

Each chapter, which begins with an entertaining FBI anecdote drawn from their FBI experiences over the years, both in the field and in the office, concludes with insightful leadership nuggets. Some are as common as demonstrating respect for your subordinates by learning their names, praising in public and criticizing in private. Others, like "The Action Imperative" and when the drive for perfection impedes organizational progress, encourage introspection and self examination. But the best part of this book is that it has a wide range of cross-over applicability to business, industry and government. The recommendations work for the private sector as well as for law enforcement. It's logical stuff, but it's also the stuff that makes the difference between success and failure for a leader.

An entertaining read and as beneficial as a textbook, "Pick Up Your Own Brass, Leadership the FBI Way" is highly recommended for anyone interested in polishing as well as developing their leadership traits.

James Botting, former FBI agent and author of "Bullets, Bombs and Fast Talk, Twenty Five Years of FBI War Stories".
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Pick Up Your Own Brass, with its fascinating human-interest stories of the FBI, and valuable insights into human behavior, is far more than a guidance book to effective leadership in a topnotch organization. Each chapter is thoughtfully laid out to teach valuable lessons by setting down memorable examples of the decision making process, and reinforcing the major points raised at the end of each anecdote. In doing so, this book is effectively instructional, but flows seamlessly like a fast-paced novel. In gaining the 'inside scoop' on leadership from the managers who worked at the highest level of the FBI organization, Kathy McChesney and Bill Gavin lay out the leadership traits necessary for an effective, cohesive unit in any organization, paralleling many of the traits that our founding fathers adhered to in governing: integrity, measured forethought, well-planned out action, prideful humbleness, healthy pliable ego, true love of leadership, cooperative spirit, calculated articulateness, and above all surrendering one's personal gain, acclaim, and hubris for the good of the whole. This book is not only for law enforcement institutions and business managers, but also for anyone who wants advice on how to lead effectively in any area of life--how to take direct charge when it's called for, but to reverentially step back and lead indirectly through capable and talented subordinates at other times; and, most importantly, to give credit where credit is due. The leadership examples set forth in this book, the basis of FBI success since the early 1900s, have been shown by vast experience to be effective strategies in keeping this country safe from criminal and terrorist elements. The authors should be commended for creating an eloquent and structured work comprising some very personal inside experiences of the FBI, both pros and cons, so that others may learn how to effectively lead.

Sally Eccleston
Senior Editor and Author
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