Jun 6, 2018
General, Stanley McChrystal
returns to The Leadership Podcast to share his thoughts and
insights on leadership and service in the modern era. General
McChrystal is the best selling author of “Team of Teams,” and
Co-Founder and Managing Partner of The McChrystal group. He talks
with Jim and Jan about the importance of a classical education, the
sacrifice leaders must make in their lives, and why it’s up to the
government and business to create challenging opportunities for the
younger generation. He shares his unique perspective on the
similarities and differences of leading and teaming in the business
and in the military. He concludes with his thoughts on
national service, education, and his recipe for more constructive
[1:28] General McChrystal is a
retired four-star general, former Commander of the International
Security Assistance Force and Commander of United States Forces
[1:39] General McChrystal is a
Senior Fellow at Yale University, where he teaches a course on
Leadership in Operation.
[3:15] Regarding millennials,
the talent is there! What’s different is that our community bonds
have grown smaller and are more self-focused, making it difficult
to find a clear path of how and where to make a
[4:30] Although we are in a time
where much service is needed from young people, only 30% of younger
people in the United States are qualified, and eligible, to enlist
in the military. General McChrystal poses the thought of
government and business sharing the responsibility to create
opportunities for the other 70% of those that still have a desire
[5:23] The Civilian Conservation
Corps of the Depression Era was a program created to give young men
the opportunity to make money, earn confidence and get a sense of
self-satisfaction. Many of those men went on to serve in World War
[6:06] General McChrystal feels
it is his generation’s responsibility to create opportunity for
youth through funding, education and business. At the McChrystal
group, they value service and community involvement. If you have
completed a year of national service, your resume gets a more
[7:09] McChrystal discussed how
we must create an incentive for businesses to hire employees based
on their potential and values - rather than just look for
professionals who already have the skills and need little
[9:27] In addition to General
McChrystal’s famous ascetic lifestyle, he is still learning,
growing and studying every day.
[9:51] People skills and a
strong work ethic as two of the benchmark qualities that make for a
good business leader.
[11:51] General McChrystal had
preconceived notions of the business world, while his colleagues
had assumptions about working with someone from the military. They
both found out that in each world there are opportunities and
challenges not so different.
[12:31] His newest book due this
fall 2018, Leaders: Myth
and Reality is inspired
by Plutarch’s life and studies of notable people. They took the
findings of this work and crafted it into modern day profiles to
compare leaders throughout history from all walks of life, and
learn the nuances of different leadership styles.
[14:13] In pairing founders and
leaders, General McChrystal finds it isn’t a one size fits all
approach to success and fulfillment. He did find the common threads
to be a commitment to the choice to lead and accept responsibility
in an authentic and self assured manner.
[18:42] Possessing an absolute
commitment and dedication to the cause comes at a cost.
[20:56] Classical and liberal
arts education that roots us in philosophy provides a common
language that connects us both with our values; and to each
[21:45] James Stockdale, United
States Navy vice admiral and prisoner of war for over seven years,
was a strong proponent in a classical education as a way to connect
us to ourselves and each other.
[23:18] As politics pervade our
culture, and the absence of civility rises, it is crucial to listen
more and welcome different points of view.
[25:04] We could benefit from
thinking more long term and focus on building sustainable
relationships that remain solid in the future. In a business world
that means treating your clients in a manner where long term
relationship is fostered.
think demonstrations of courage are usually reserved for the
battlefield, but it is beneficial to recognize it in the workplace
[30:48] General McChrystal is a
great believer of experiential leadership for individuals and
groups. At The McChrystal Group, they offer adventures for
the team to succeed, become familiar and push one
[33:30] The military uses its
advantages of patriotism, and extra time for training to shape them
into leaders. On the battlefield, you need to make life or death
decisions, where in business there are laws and bureaucracies and
it’s harder for people to be decisive. Often times businesses will
skimp on or cancel their leadership development programs due to
lack of budget or manpower.
[38:01] In an organization with
timid leadership, they will see the problem and take a conservative
approach while rationalizing to do very little, or not enough.
Making strong decisions is like a muscle you must continue to
[39:34] General McChrystal names
the two biggest current security challenges we are facing in
- Education lagging behind the progress of the
rest of the world.
- Inability to make rational political
[46:02] As General McChrystal
has a strong relationship with his grandchildren, he believes in
balancing work with getting outside for adventure, continued
education, and family.
got to create opportunities where people can do the kinds of
service that gives them a sense of satisfaction, and a
rewarding service in your home, school and community.
you enter the military, nobody is already a soldier, airman or
- College doesn’t prepare you for what you are
going to do, it prepares you to be prepared for what you are going
- Everything is simple, but the simplest is
- Leadership is this complex weave of
- Possessing an absolute commitment and
dedication to the cause comes at a cost.
- Classical and liberal arts education that roots
us in philosophy provides a common language that connects us both
with our values; and to each other.
a willingness to sacrifice for the cause when they decide to
- Strong leaders are themselves.
to think long term.
- There’s got to be some long term consequences
everything today to protect what you can do in the
you do something challenging with strangers, you rarely end up as
takes courage to make great decisions.
things get hard, it’s a time to show courage.
promise to do more than you are willing to do.
- Leaders make decisions that others are
reluctant to make.
A retired four-star
general, Stanley McChrystal is the former
of U.S. and International
Security Assistance Force Afghanistan and Joint Special
General McChrystal a Managing Partner of
McChrystal Group, LLC, and a senior fellow at Yale
University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, where
he teaches a course on Leadership in Operation.
He is also the Chairman of the Aspen Institute’s
Service Year Alliance, dedicated to promoting national
service initiatives among American youth. He is the author of
two New York Times best-selling books: My Share of the Task:
and Team of
Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex
McChrystal resides in Alexandria, Virginia, with his
wife of 39 years, Annie.
My Share of the Task: A Memoir
Team of the Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a
Courage: The Backbone of