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Clarity in Crisis

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Clarity in Crisis

Leadership Lessons from the CIA

HarperCollins Leadership,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

CIA veteran Marc Polymeropoulo offers leadership ideas and harrowing tales from the intelligence service.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples
  • Insider's Take


Former CIA operative Marc Polymeropoulo offers more thrills than the usual leadership author. He tells of decades of recruiting and developing spies, running CIA intelligence operations in the Middle East and setting up teams to respond to various dangers. Polymeropoulo describes lessons leaders have learned and mistakes they made in life-or-death situations. Then, he provides principles leaders can follow to prepare for ordinary challenges as well as unexpected crises. Polymeropoulo’s advice is widely applicable, concise and – you’ll be glad to know – unclassified.


The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) developed a strong culture that embraces diversity.

The Organization of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA, operated behind Axis lines during WWII and disbanded in 1945. President Harry Truman created the CIA when he signed the US National Security Act on July 26, 1947.

Since its inception, the CIA has worked “in the shadows.” Although it rarely, if ever, gets credit, the organization’s work often features prominently in the media. People passing through the lobby of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia see a biblical verse from John 8:32 carved into the wall: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Former CIA Director Allen Dulles chose this motto as a mission and value statement for the agency. 

The CIA’s mission is to find the truth and ensure that solid data reaches the highest levels of the US government. The effect of this data on people or politics is secondary to the agency’s mission of conveying accurate information to those in leadership positions. 

The CIA has five “directorates,” or departments...

About the Author

Marc Polymeropoulos, one of the CIA’s most decorated field officers, retired from the senior intelligence service after 26 years in operational headquarters and field management assignments.

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