What Makes A Good Leader? Reflections On Leadership In The Security Industry

What Makes A Good Leader

As the security industry continues to grow, few companies have been able to maintain steady leadership.  USPA Nationwide Security was not one of those firms, maintaining the same leadership for over 16 years. 

However, when Michael Evans retired from the role of CEO of USPA Nationwide Security towards the end of 2021, many in the industry did not know which direction the long-standing firm would take with its new leadership. 

Evans appointed Dan Manning, the firm’s former Vice President of Operations, to take the helm and continue to grow and expand the ever-evolving firm. 

What Makes A Good Leader
Dan Maning is on the left side and Michael Evans is on right side.

We recently sat down with Dan to talk about the second major move he has undertaken this year since coming on board in July of 2021.

“I was honored when Mike approached me with this opportunity” Manning said. 

“I have worked with and known Mike for a long time, over ten years now, and I know how much he cares about this company.  I know he wouldn’t have trusted it in the hands of just anyone.” Evans, who founded the security firm in 2005, has seen it grow from a handful of local contracts to a Nationwide leader in providing security services.

Manning met Evans in February of 2011 when he was hired as a Loss Prevention and Security Manager for National Convenience Distributors (formerly Harold Levinson Associates), a distribution company in New York where USPA held (and still holds) the contract for uniformed security service since 2009. 

“I knew right away when I met Mike that he is someone that I should gravitate towards.  Obviously, he had the technical expertise to run the site security, but his keen sense of business always allowed him to stay one step ahead of every problem that came up” stated Manning. 

“It wasn’t long into that role that I realized Mike was more of a mentor to me than my actual direct boss.  Mike was always willing to invest time in to teaching me new skills that I couldn’t find with the boss I had.  He was a real leader”

Over the years, Manning continued to work with Evans and lean on him for support.  “I remember a time around 2017 when our department had a very important case we were working on.  It became apparent that my boss at the time wanted nothing to do with inconveniencing himself to find a resolution to the case.  I was appalled at this, that a senior level investigator, my boss, just didn’t want to work to resolve the issue.  I vented my frustrations to Mike, just as a sounding board, and he offered to travel from Florida to Massachusetts to continue the case with me.”  It was acts like this, Manning says, that made him realize that professional titles did not make leaders, their actions did.

In 2021 Manning decided that he should pursue a change in his career to match some of the changes that were taking place in his personal life. 

As fate would have it, Evans was also looking to bring someone on board to absorb some of the new work his firm was seeing.  “Mike and I got to talking, and everything just felt right. 

Our conversation was two hours long.  If it was an interview, Mike never let on that he was interviewing me, everything was free flowing,” said Manning.  “I never doubted that this was the path I should take or the leader I should follow.  The conversation was all about positivity and growth, two things that I was craving at the time,” he continued.  

When asked about how he would try to thank Evans for the opportunity, Manning said “I don’t think Mike is the type of guy who is looking for thanks or accolades.  He is the type of person, or leader, that would just want me to go out, put my head down, and do my job. That would be enough.  And that’s exactly why I know I’m in the right spot.  Its not about ego or title, it’s about working towards a goal or mission and accomplishing it.  Before I came on board with USPA, I was asked during an interview, by a very prominent and accomplished executive in the security industry, if I would rather be a manager or a leader.  I laughed at the question, which didn’t come across great in the interview, but it was because I thought the answer was so simple: a leader, obviously.”  He followed with, “Manager is just a title; it is assigned to someone when they sign an employment contract.  Leader is a position that is earned through gaining the respect of others.”