General Stanley McChrystal | New Rules of Engagement (Episode 573)

General Stanley McChrystal (@StanMcChrystal) talks about more than 34 years of service in the US Army and his book Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • See leadership from a special forces perspective.
  • Understand why flexibility and adaptability are the cure for an unpredictable landscape — in contrast to a system that values strict adherence to rules that limit rather than guide best practices.
  • Learn techniques for ways we can build flexibility in ourselves.
  • Find out why relationships are the key to success of any organization — military or otherwise.
  • Discover how we can develop relationships and networks to improve our own organizations.
  • And so much more…


(Direct Download Episode Here)

When you’re on top of the command chain for an operation that affects the lives of thousands, do you focus on accomplishing the daunting task at hand, or the accolades due someone who’s done the hard work to achieve your august position?

If you’re Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World author General Stanley McChrystal, you do the right thing. We’re honored to have General McChrystal on this episode of The Art of Charm to tell us what the right thing is, and how we can apply military team-building psychology to get the job done in the civilian world — no matter the task at hand. Please enjoy!

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When interacting with a four-star general in the line of duty, one might expect the observation of a certain protocol is imperative. And when that four-star general also happens to be the commander of all American and coalition forces in Afghanistan, one might also expect a lapse in this protocol to be especially dire.

In fact, when this “lapse in protocol” is more accurately described as unknowingly chewing out one’s most superior officer for a breach in security, the consequences might be career-ending.

But when this particular four-star general is General Stanley McChrystal, you’ll instead be commended for doing your job well. To him, getting the mission right surpasses any personal need for ego gratification.

Or maybe someone who achieves the rank of four-star general doesn’t really need anyone else’s validation.

In his book Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, General McChrystal shows how special forces team-building psychology and concepts can be applied to corporate climates and personal endeavors.

For instance, a team that takes pride in the job to which it’s tasked is a team that’s going to do that job well — and there’s an undeniable bond between that team’s members. General McChrystal says: “Almost all the veterans I talked to that were in good units talk fondly about the experience through the lens of, ‘Hey, I was with people I really loved and cared about — I was proud to be part of it.’

This is the kind of team that demands (and deserves) a leader who is going to get the most out of it — a leader who understands the difference between burning the team out with meaningless demands and utilizing the team’s resources to accomplish a goal.

“People want leaders to take them to success,” says General McChrystal. “They want leaders to demand a lot of them. In fact, they take pride in a demanding leader. But the tipping point is they don’t take pride in someone who is abusive without purpose. People took pride that Vince Lombardi pushed his teams physically hard…but they never talk with pride [about] a leader who is personally demeaning to people or a leader who pits people against each other.”

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm to learn more about the importance of being trusted over being liked as a leader, how General McChrystal aspired to his career path from an early age (and excelled in spite of a rocky and undisciplined beginning among the bottom ten percent at West Point), what we should do with rules that don’t serve a purpose, why General McChrystal eats one meal a day (and why the regimen of one successful person isn’t necessarily going to work well for you), how playing politics can make a leader risk averse to the point of ineffectiveness, how many fights General McChrystal has won with his personalized nunchucks, why a leader shouldn’t shy away from the front lines, how to determine what old rules to keep when installing new ones, the distinction between complicated and complex, how an effective team builder can gauge the cohesiveness of that team’s members and their ability to forge strong relationships, what General McChrystal likes to read (and what he learns from it), ways civilian leadership is a more difficult job than military leadership, General McChrystal’s take on the controversial Rolling Stone article that landed him in hot water (and how rapport-building between all parties beforehand might have placed it in a less disastrous context), and lots more.


If you enjoyed this session with General Stanley McChrystal, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank General Stanley McChrystal at Twitter!

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Jordan Harbinger - author of 931 posts on The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger has spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and speaks several languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped -- twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation. Here at The Art of Charm, Jordan shares that experience, and the system borne as a result, with students and clients.

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