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Photography by Matt Hamilton / Bryan Johnson

Bryan Johnson is the chief of staff for U.S. Xpress, a role he took in August after spending four years as superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. In the newly created role, Johnson leads strategic, multi-departmental initiatives for the company, which has aggressive goals including doubling revenue in the next four years, doubling community engagement and growing its digitally managed Variant fleet.

Johnson has a bachelor's degree in business from Austin Peay State University, a master's degree in special education and teaching from Belmont University and a doctorate in educational leadership and professional practice from Trevecca Nazarene University. From 2008 ti 2017, he served in roles from teacher and coach to chief academic officer for the Clarksville Montgomery County school system.

What books have influenced your leadership style and career development?

During my graduate studies, I was exposed to Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." It became a game-changer for me as an aspiring leader. "Influencer," by David Maxfield, Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler also had a significant impact on my leadership style. I was exposed to "Influencer" just as I was moving into leading complex organizational change.

What books have you recently read that you're recommending to others?

"Infinite Game" by Simon Sinek is my most recent read. It was the perfect read, as we've all been dealing with a tough opponent in COVID-19. It challenged my thinking to not just think about the next quarter, but to realize that truly successful leaders and organizations are successful because they keep playing the game. They keep playing the game because all the team members are grounded in what Sinek coins a "Just Cause."

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Photography by Matt Hamilton / Bryan Johnson

Sinek writes that a just cause is so appealing that people are willing to make sacrifices in order to advance toward that vision. "Dare to Lead" by Brene Brown was also a recent read that had significant impact on how I've approached the work over the last couple of years. One of the key tenets I took from Brene's work is rumbling with vulnerability. Great leaders are willing to be vulnerable and establish a culture where those that work alongside them embrace rumbling in a vulnerable fashion, which elicits trust and innovation.

What's next on your to-read list?

Next on my to-read list is "Upstream" by Dan Heath. Every great organization wants to be proactive instead of reactive, and I look forward to diving into Heath's perspectives on how to use system thinking to accelerate an upstream approach.

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