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.
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.
THANKS, GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL!
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:
AJ Harbinger - author of 1166 posts on The Art of Charm
AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality.
Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.
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