General Stanley McChrystal: Lessons of Leadership

General Stanley McChrystal: Lessons of Leadership



general it's hard to know where to start but maybe we could just start with the span of your career because when you went to West Point we were still in Vietnam 1972 and that was a pretty bad time for the US military and you you wrote in your book about how cadets felt that they were estranged from the general society in which they lived that what they did wasn't really respected fast forward for me if you would from then to now almost 40 42 years now and how has that changed and why is it changed it's changed very more fundamentally than even we realized when I first got to West Point it was the summer of 1972 and the class of 76 which I was in that enter that year statistically had the easiest time of being admitted to West Point of any class in its history because it just wasn't that popular and that's how I got in and but I remember we got to West Point and the army had been buffeted by things from Vietnam the malai massacre a number of other things were still ongoing there was really a crisis in confidence in the army and of course the nation was going through quite a bit but you're a little bit protected from that at West Point you get in there and it's a cloistered environment but after about four or five months you get to go out for your first time for a few hours and we went down to a football game and then after that we had like two hours in New York City and I remember we we got off this bus and we had to wear our gray full dress uniforms and you don't think of yourself as different but you get out and you're sort of looking like the guards from The Wizard of Oz and a car drives by and a young girl sticks herself out almost to the waist leaning out of the back window and flips us off and you just you don't know her and you're just but you suddenly realize that there's this feeling about who you now are that you don't feel like giving a part of but suddenly there was that depth of doubt and question now as we went forward the first the first few years of my career the army was still sort of certain its way I went to the 82nd airborne and it was really in bad shape in the late 70s but then it's things started to get much better late 70s early 80s and then suddenly the army changed sort of with society and the army we went from having to beg people to re-enlist in the army and my first tour – in the early 1980s we did these boards to see if we would allow them to stay in the army and so suddenly the army got more professional society started having a different view of the military and by the end of the 1980s suddenly – changed dramatically how we were treated – how how we thought of ourselves great confidence probably the apogee of that was the first Gulf War and it's has been through this entire lasts more than a decade of war where the military has had a very difficult time as you can imagine asked a lot it's a long and it's the only time in American industry our history where we tried to fight an extended war with that without a draft army with entirely a volunteer force which means it's the same people over and over a lot of people fought but a lot of the same people fought there was a special force I'm sorry arranger noncommissioned officer was killed two summers ago who I'd known who was killed he had enlisted right at 9/11 he had had 14 tours now Ranger tours for three and four months long so it's not years but he his whole career had been at war he got married had two kids and then he was killed on his 14th tour so that's who's out there and that's different from any time in history and so it's a it's a different dynamic but fortunately the people of the United States whether you felt you supported the war politically or not we were able to separate that from your feeling about the military and that's very appreciated we could never have the force could never have continued to do what it has done had that up in the case that that sense of support and the sense of inclusion into society was the dumpee determinate and let me if I may narrow it down now to the special forces because I know that when you first enter the Rangers they talked about the special forces guys outside as speckled feces which is about as insulting as it gets and yet today the Special Forces can do no wrong how did that transformation come about American military like much of American society doesn't like elitism and so what happens is usually with each war we found elite units we formed them because there's a requirement for them and then as soon as the war's nearing an end we get rid of them because there's a there's an antibody the rejection of the idea of it so after during the Second World War we formed the Rangers we formed the first Special Force or service force as soon as war was over got rid of them during the Korean War we formed the Rangers again in a slightly different form we form Special Forces as soon as Korean War was over we got rid of the Rangers again we we kept Special Forces but in a smaller thing then we went to Vietnam we grew them both again brought the Rangers back grew Special Forces as soon as the war got over we did the same thing again and when I entered Special Forces as a young officer in nineteen I was in the 82nd first in 1977 I decided I wanted to go be a Green Beret because I'd seen the movie and as I tell people why didn't I go see Wall Street but I became a green beret and that's as I started to go I went and volunteered for it and guys started saying sir you're going to speckle feces and I said what and they they thought it was a place where people went if they were lazy and whatnot but and and Special Forces were struggling in the late 70s but it started to get better and better and then in the 80s I went to the Rangers and suddenly we started this rebirth of American special operating forces which is the Rangers Delta Force EO theme sickens the whole gamut of it it's great because we've developed this incredible group of professionals the danger is and I'll you didn't ask me this question but the danger is you start to think they're the tool for every job and because they seem sexy and they seem you're gonna there's a temptation to want to solve it with that and they're gonna be very incorrect improper for many things yeah I was actually going to push it further when we see movies like zero dark thirty and I understand that it stuck to the facts of certain extent but the impression is our Special Forces can go in solve any problem and extract without loss of life to the American side I'm concerned that that gives perhaps civilians a sense that we can do anything we want with no loss to American lives in in combat and of course that's not really the case yeah there are two dangers with that and yet the first one perfectly Terry and that is and when I was doing this people would say we want to do consider an operation is that they'd ask you what's the level of risk and we'd assess it and we'd come back and we say it's high-risk but it got to where decision-makers got very used to success so they started almost to forget that it's like your investment adviser says you can invest in this and get this way to return and it's high-risk well you hear they ready to return and you think we'll the risk I've never lost money before so it's gonna be okay but the reality is it's high risk and high risk not just of loss of life but also a mission failure which has national consequences so that's that's one problem and it's very dangerous stuff and our special operating forces are so stunningly good right now I mean they are that compared to anybody in the world there's no comparison and compared to anything before there's no comparison but that doesn't mean they can do any and everything we we fought against al-qaeda in Iraq I have told some people this at one point for more than two years we did three hundred raids a month just my force in Iraq alone that's ten a night most operators were on four-month rotations 120 days and they would go for four months then come back home for eight then they'd come for for 120 days they'd do a hundred and twenty raids every night and when I talk rates I've nothing to patrol as I'm talking about somebody's going in the door and somebody's getting shot and yet we had this so good that we got almost over confident that we always won the firefighter and so that's part of it that's a danger the other part however is you have a movie like zero dark thirty and you see who will win and it was great and actually the depiction of the raid there was extraordinarily accurate to what a raid looks and feels like but the danger is the real story of zero dark thirty probably we ought to begin it at the raid because look at all of the ramifications of that with our relations to Pakistan and also anything we do that's a military action we have to realize as a hasn't a cost to it a reaction to it and so just because it's small and feels surgical doesn't mean it doesn't carry the same level of an act of war and so it's it's just part of it the calculation that the nation has to do and I'd like to approach that Rolling Stone article issue because it's out there and 2010 they come out with a story and you you read it at two o'clock in the morning I believe and he went for a run and then you had to fly back to Washington and you resigned how did you see that from your perspective it was in the press we read it all in the media but for you this was your career how did you feel that that was handled and how you treated it and how you were treated yeah first off for the background everybody they would say the year that I commanded in Afghanistan the war was not very popular and so one of the things that we had to do is get support for the war had to get it with our European allies had to get it with the Afghan people had to get it with press had to get with the American population so we had to do a lot of things I did a 60 minutes story that I didn't want to do but came out ok and then we had a lot of press through and I did a number of embeds and then embed doesn't mean the persons with you all the time it means they come in for a couple of days you don't see him for a couple weeks then they come back for a day or two and and whatnot and this was one of them and they came to me and they said how about having a guy from Rolling Stone and I said why would I do that and they said well you know we got to get a different part of the American readership see what you do and I said well we're pretty transparent what we did so all right so we brought this guy around and he was in and out for about six weeks he was with us two or three times and then and so I asked about it about two weeks before the article came and I said is that article ever coming out and they said yeah he's working it you know whatever and then I got woken up about 2:00 in the morning and they said my exec woke me up said we got to talk we got a problem I said what he said the Rolling Stone article came out and I said really that's that's gonna be a puff piece I mean he's around the command group he says it's not alright so I went downstairs and I lived right above our operation center and he shows me the article and as soon as I read the article I knew what what was happening here the the title of the article was a runaway general you know what you start with that and then the article basically paints my command team as a as a sort of out of control group attributes to us about your comments about leaders and whatnot that sort of thing the Vice President whatnot and as soon as I read it I said all right this is going to cause a conflagration because we live in that world right now we live in look what general Shinseki is going through right now what happens is we we rush to the conflagration faster than we can investigate the reality of it and so this was a pretty tense political time and I knew there was this perception of civil military issue so this thing this article came out and as soon as I read it I said all right well it's gonna be impossible to deal with this in a in a way where I can go now let me investigate it let me figure out what's true what didn't true and I didn't know didn't know what in the article was accurate and what not I knew that the overall depiction was not correct because I knew my team but I didn't know on the facts so I I made a couple of calls I call the secretary defense that chairman obviously and but I sort of knew what the deal was so I went out running I came back and I actually thought a couple of times I said I'm asleep this is a dream and I'm gonna wake up because my whole life I thought I might be fired for incompetence tense or I might be killed those were those were pretty realistic possibilities that I thought a lot about but I never thought I'd be accused of disloyalty never in a million years and so when this thing comes it was an out-of-body experience but so the morning comes and that that was you know it got to be daylight in the morning and we're starting to deal with things and I got a call from the chairman says okay we're gonna want you to fly back to the States later today and meet with a secretary defense the president's okay fine and as I did that whole process I was able to think about it now it was blowing up in the press over here I couldn't see that but I I had a sense of that there really two real options there one is to say no I don't think it's true I think we've got to fight this I want my day in court but you got a war to fight you got a hundred fifty thousand guys you've got to follow you and you think about what's that situation then and then the other option is to say all right whether or not I think the article is correct what I have done is allowed myself to be in a position that puts a president in the tough position and that's not my I'm not supposed to do that whether I think it's fair or not it's certainly not fair for the President to suddenly find himself pressured by this so I made the decision that I would go in and tell a president that I would stay if you want to be – or offer my resignation if you wanted that which is exactly what it did and I never really had a second thought I mean I would just have thought about it I've replayed this in my mind a million times since then but I don't have any doubts that what I did in terms of offering my resignation was right because the most important thing at that time was a mission and what you didn't need was a controversy between a general and the president being on the front page and that sort of thing and you know the hardest part of it and if I don't know if any of you all have ever been there everybody says well you know I'd like publicity maybe you would maybe you wouldn't is because particularly if you think it's not fair there's really not a venue to say that that's not an option and you got my 85 year old father reading this got my my son off at college reading this got my wife reading this oh that's what you think about you think about that and you say well look what I've just positioned that that you are in now that that I feel responsible for so you know that's the way it works how do I feel about it now kind of I get hit by lightning I sort of feel like it's just one of those things that happens it comes around and you know a number of things line up and poof this things happens to you and you really can't stop it and you can't cry about it there's no appointment you decide you're gonna move forward and so from that day on in your life you can either replay that forever you can argue that forever you can try to say that one right or you can live moving forward and say what I'm gonna do is conduct myself so that everybody who meets me says wait a minute I read that story and I met this guy and they are not congruent and then let each person make their choice that's what I do let me just add a coda to that story because not a lot of people followed this but in April of the following year in 2011 the Department of Defense's inspector general's office finished their review of this whole affair because it was a serious affair and there were allegations that the office of the President had been impunity and they found no violations of DoD standards and they also said in our quote not all the events occurred as portrayed in the article I leave it up to you to make your judgments and but that leads me on to leadership lessons because that was in a sense also lesson a leadership and that seems to be a theme that runs through your career this this search for leadership mastery of leadership exercising leadership I'm curious about leadership in the midst of rapid change because that is what war is about things are changing all the time and always the way you want them to it's it's it's easier easier I think if you're in a measured environment and you know what's going to happen and say well if I change this of it but when you're in a war you're not in control of everything leadership there becomes paramount but how do you practice for that yeah it's really a great question because I've spent the last few years study in that I spent the first years of my career experience and try to deal with it sort of intuitively and I've been studying it and and I could think about it this way if if you think about something that's fairly organized that you know think about the game of chess about 6,000 years old got understood rules each side has 16 players each of the pieces has a unique capability and how it moves a set of power and there's a version of chess called blitz chess and that is very rapid clock movement so you have to move move move and you think well that's really hard but then you think about it all the pieces move in a set way and even if you're moving fast it's the iterative you make a move and then your opponent makes a move you make a move and then your opponent makes a move and no matter how fast it is that doesn't even begin to capture the which were living in environment now whether it's business or government or war because in reality there are no such rules first off the pieces are not predictable in how they can move and the second it's not iterative you don't make a move and then your opponent makes a move in fact your opponent can make four move simultaneously and if you don't move quick enough they can move four more again and if you make one they can do six or you're not playing against one opponent in fact you're playing against imagine if all the chess pieces on the side against you aren't controlled by one person but in fact they all have a mind of their own they're seeing it from their level they got their own brains and they're dealing with it and so suddenly they are this thinking learning entity that a factor much faster than you are and you're trying to go through this process now wait a minute I got to think back to what the strategy of chess is and suddenly you find yourself in this reactive mode where the speed and complexity has grown so fast that you just sort of want that maragon merry-go-round to stop so I can get back to my strategy that's the way war has gotten it has become disorienting ly fast and simultaneously it's become interconnected meaning before you might have a war that took place in a in a certain place and although it was connected in some ways to other parts of the battlefield or other parts of the world that was a very delayed process now it's connected through information technology instantaneously if you think about the fruit seller who burned himself to death in Tunisia December 17th 2010 here's a fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi kills himself because he's angry with the government had good reason January 11th the government fell that's barely three weeks later the government fell cuz one guy killed himself but it went viral January 18 2011 just another week from that a video blog was put out in Egypt that said come to here square on the 25th for rally on the 25th over a million people showed up February 11th after forty years in power Mubarak sout they didn't know what hit him I mean the fact the Egyptian government which was pretty good at population control for a long time they didn't know what hit them and that's the way things are now it is at a point where the master leader the master strategist can't do it nobody is capable of doing it so it's upended how we have to run organizations and what we did enjoyed Special Operations Command is we didn't come we didn't study this and realize it we realized it through trial and error and we upended the way we operated so that we decentralized our execution and the authority to make decisions way down so that they could decide really by themselves but at the same time we centralized information so that everybody had to tell everybody everything all the time so this became this learning organization but the leaders role changed fundamentally and that I didn't make a lot of decision my decision was to create the venue stimulate the constant conversation as I say I used to walk around and say I'd spin the pie plates like the old you know on the sticks on the old Sullivan Show I just keep it going and the organization does the work but it's fundamental change for the leader because you don't have that same feeling like I am the man I make the decisions I am Napoleon making the critical moves at a time on the chess master you're not you create the chessboard you set the rules and you enable your pieces to do it long answer but I'm fascinated by the question Bob asked me to ask you about drones immensely useful military tools both for observation and for delivering weapon systems but do create pushback as we've seen in Pakistan or more recently in Yemen I'm wondering do we need a new rulebook to govern the use of drones because there's never really been anything like them before how do you how do you see that developing in in our military you know it's a it's a good one there have been a bunch of times in history where the rules have sort of changed it used to be bad form to kill officers on the field particularly to shoot officers I thought that was a great rule but it got changed and that sort of changed that the values of the mores the unwritten rules of the game and what has happened with drones is there a technological leap that changed some of the calculus missiles did it first things like tomahawks but drones brought it home because we could put so many up and what it allowed you to do it allowed you to look at things you couldn't look at before and shoot things you couldn't shoot it before with zero risk to yourself physically so you could put this thing up you could drone it over them whatever you want then you could shoot whatever you want and if they shot it down or it severed so what just get another one they're not even very expensive well it's great and to be honest drones are going to drones are going to become common and everything not everybody in this room but some of the young people in this room will fly on unmanned passenger jets in your life guarantee it just a generational thing as soon as the old people get over at the young people going to do it but but here's the challenge with drones if we go back to 1988 when President Clinton you remember he did a strike against al-qaeda because of the threats to President Bush HW Bush he shot tomahawk missiles into the Sudan and into Pakistan or Afghanistan one went into Pakistan were no Chitina but the rest were in Pakistan or Afghanistan if you'd asked most American the next morning whether we were at war what none of us would have said we were war we said no we're not at war we shot some tomahawk missiles last night but we're not at war but if you'd asked the people at the receiving end of the time all missiles if they war with the US different answer and so the answer is we've lowered the threshold for ability to do what is really an act of war we can watch them violate their sovereignty to watch them and we can shoot them and because we haven't put ourselves at risk we start to say well this isn't war this is this is just what we do so that the danger is if you lower the threshold for that kind of operation you may take it less seriously than it is and you may underestimate the reaction from the people who are receiving it and even more the actions or the reactions of people who see it in Pakistan were hated and our drone operations are hated but they are more hated in the Punjab than they are and was ear estándar where the drone strikes have gum because the people in the was ear stand don't love them but they know why you're shooting and they know who you're shooting and they sort of get it the people in the rest of the country just see it as a violation of sovereignty and this is wrong people in the rest of the world to a great degree view it the same way I sometimes ask people what if Mexico came into the US and in Texas shot a drone and killed a drug dealer I don't think we'd say hey good on you I think we'd feel that wasn't right so I am an advocate of the use of drones but what I'd say is we need a I don't know if a rule books gonna do it but a cultural appreciation for this every time you do something it has a value and it has a cost and sometimes we can do a better job of appreciating the perception of people at the other side of this thing and then do your do your calculus on whether it's worth it and because they've got this special aura around them now we need to we need to admit that drones have a special effect so if you kill somebody with a drone it seems a little more offensive to some people than it does if you if they're killed another way we just need to appreciate that I mean it's war and everything is about a perception we'll get some questions in the for but let me ask one more because I know it involves something you're quite passionate about and this Saturday is Armed Forces Day I don't know how many people here knew that third Saturday May has been since 1949 and we don't have a draft a lot of people are not connected anymore you're in favor not just of a draft but something even more comprehensive national service explained the thought behind it and we're you're out yeah thanks for asking about that Terry I am and and here's why if we go back to the Second World War 16 million Americans in uniform but every family touched by it in some way people work in people sacrifice and whatnot and then we think about that the term that Tom Brokaw said so well the greatest generation and we got part of the greatest generation in here but my belief is the greatest generation was not the fact that they won the Second World War or survived the depression or whatever that was great but that's what made it them the greatest generation it's what they did with that experience and with the values that were inculcated in them from that the sense of citizenship I think what we've done is we've let the concept of citizenship deteriorate a bit I think people are starting to feel that citizenship is paying taxes it's voting and I've done my share but in reality citizenship is this wider responsibility think of that the times in in parts of the nation where you couldn't raise your barn without help because you couldn't physically do it think about militias on the frontier you had to be a community to do things we've let that we've left that deteriorate and so as a consequence we don't know each other in communities inside communities and we are segmented in communities and the sense of who's a citizen and what that means isn't as strong as it used to be so my belief is a way we can help fix this is to give every young American between 18 and 28 the opportunity and the implied responsibility to do a year of paid national service full-time for twelve months health care conservation education some range could be military if they want but you don't need everybody in the military something that takes them out of their comfort zone and they go do something they get a living stipend twelve to fifteen thousand bucks not enough to get rich but enough to keep you in food and whatnot serve with people from around the country and if the internet year the product is not the work they do although the work must be a value the product is them the product is different citizens it's and they may not be a better citizen okay will we have two microphones one here and one here if you put your hand up and we'll get to you and Jessica can you go thank you and we got another microphone over here and we have to get the general out of here before 9 o'clock where those Navy SEALs are coming in the river so general thank you so much for coming to Los Angeles and helping us understand some of the more subtle effects of what you've been through I was chatting with a fellow who was just in Iraq a little while back and he said that it was just a terrible mess and said that he didn't think that had American military forces stayed there that they would have been able to prevent some of this take back that al-qaeda and the Sunnis have done can you address that question yes yes ma'am and if you couldn't hear the answer is really what about Iraq be where it is now which is a real problem state if American forces at stage and this is my personal opinion but I agree with that we really in 2005 to about 2008 we wrestled al Qaeda down to the ground and we beat him up and essentially took them out of the fight what has happened since then in my view and I think America stepped away too quickly I think we shouldn't could have worked through the Status of Forces Agreement but we've allowed Iraq to give way to some of its baser instincts that the government Prime Minister Maliki has done a lousy job of convincing the Sunnis and the Kurds that they are a part of this nation and so as a consequence the Sunnis particularly are frightened and they're irritated and they are tinder for people like al Qaeda in Iraq now is is to to raise up again and so as a consequence they're starting a pretty serious fight again Fallujah was occupied and what the thing about war is once you start a war you could start a war for one reason and then pretty soon it continues for its own reason because you start it for political reasons and you got certain in states but once you've killed each other you fight because you killed my brother you killed my family etc and so the conflagration doesn't have to have tremendous logic after that because it has passion and then the problem in Iraq is made worse by the fact that there's a perception of Iranian control of the Shia dominated government but even worse across the border in Syria now you have this open sore this you know bleeding ulcer of Syria which has in parts of the opposition as a pretty fundamentalist group so now the Sunnis in Iraq get at least support from what's happening in Syria which just makes it worse so I think we I think we made a mistake there and I don't think we're gonna go back and correct it but I think we're gonna live with it for a while general McChrystal your concept of a national service is that compulsory or is it voluntary and has their if it is compulsory has there been pushback from civil libertarian groups the answer is it is not compulsory when I first voiced the idea it was and and I'll be honest when I get at night by myself and do the things you don't talk about I dream of compulsory national service but smarter people said no we got to make it voluntary so what we're trying to do is make it voluntary , but expected so we're working with businesses and colleges and what not to get preferential hiring preferential admission credit for it afterward a GI bill like support so we're trying to make it in every young person's best interest to do it because they get advantages from it so we're not asking them to do it just for altruism I didn't enter the army to serve the nation most people don't they enter because it looks like it's going to be fun and it's an adventure then when you're there you get the bug and that's I think the key to this thank you I don't wish to sound patronizing but in light of your comments about the article I have a feeling that you should feel vindicated based upon what is happening currently yeah well that's kind of yeah you know I sort of feel like life goes on and I I was given the gift of a painful experience and if I'm not smart enough to to try to grow with it then I missed that opportunity so that's what I try to do and so I don't really take any great solace in anybody having any other problems you know the individual wrote the story was killed in a car accident when I do yeah right here they told me I was given a speech I walked off the stage and a reporter was waiting for me and told me that he says and he was an old friend of mine he says how do you feel and I said I don't how can I feel like human being died who you know I take no pleasure in that so I guess I take more pleasure and just trying to move forward but your concert thank you would you comment on the Wounded Warrior Project by Bill O'Reilly and others have done a lot for this project why is there a need for a Wounded Warrior Project with payments from citizens isn't this a responsibility of the federal government yeah that's a great question I'm not going to talk about the Wounded Warrior Project that is one of the wounded well that's one of the big ones but they're a whole bunch of up so I'm going to lump them all together actually the government does a pretty good job on them on the medical part I think they do a great job the problem is the government isn't good when somebody is ready to leave the hospital and go back to their community the government isn't good at that and is never going to be too good at that you really don't want them to be too good at that because you don't want the government to control at the local level I think what we have to do and I actually think it's useful to have things like for wounded warriors and families and whatnot because it brings America back into a sense of you know young people go to war from our communities they're not created in some lab or test tube and made into soldiers they come from your houses your streets your towns and you send them over you vote you pay taxes you Sen them they fight for you when you come home when they come home they belong to you that's a the government and so I actually think it's very good that we have the requirement because it forces Americans to do it now I will say there are some needs I think could be better met and I hate the fact that you know we have some veterans and families who go through a lot of bureaucracy and what not we ought to automatically do that we don't we shouldn't just be relying on generosity but I do like the idea that it forces Americans to be involved here's a statistic during the Civil War one out of every 68 Americans was wounded so you knew somebody who was wounded you saw him in your town on the street or in your family about two years ago last time I checked it was one out of every seven thousand 260 Americans is wounded you don't even know someone who's been wounded most likely particularly if you live in a lot of areas so having that connection I think has some value great points are thank you sir there have to preface this I'm a former naval officer and I served many years and what I'm finding today is as we speak about the War Wounded Warrior Project and so forth how do you feel down the road because now that you're out and I'm finding this as a tremendous impact women who have served and I don't mean to sound sexist but this has to come off that way because what I'm finding is is that the services are leaning more toward it's all about the men but we forget about the women who served and we've served combat we served administrative Lee we've I served for three Admirals and I can honestly tell you we weren't equally as hard but we somehow do not receive that kind of recognition so how do you feel about that yeah well I agree with you that the service is no matter how hard we tried a lot of things reflect American values and because the service is by the nature what they are a conservative institution it's not politically but culturally don't change as fast as we hope they will they change pretty well but they don't change so female service members have a tougher row to hoe typically female officers will be put in assignments that are they're good but they're not the path to being senior leaders it's much harder to become a senior leader as a female because the same opportunities aren't open to you I think you know we had this big argument about whether women can be in combat sort of after the fact they've been in combat for the last 15 years and I watched them I've watched them get wounded I've watched them fight i watch them do all of those things and it's time we we go on and just admit that part of that's the services problem part of that it's just our society it's just we're just you know we're slower to reflect things than we probably ought to be I think inside the services most servicemembers maybe slow to it we'll admit that but it but it takes a while I was at West Point the last year when it was all male and then right after I graduated that first female it's the energy and I remember all these old grads and all said West Point will fall into the Hudson River it will just go to the dogs and I mean they did all these things it just won't be the same and I didn't have much of an opinion because I was about to leave but you know it didn't it just kind of did fine but it takes a little time and I don't know that's that's tough on social change but it's borne out by experience oh thank you thanks for your service hi I have question speaking to my friends who serve they've noticed that since 9/11 there's a whole generation of soldiers who have more combat experience and then really anyone who's had for many generations our country and they're being led at the top by people who don't have nearly as much experience I'm curious what challenges that presented for you when you like men and how you think that's affecting the military now yeah it's an interesting challenge because the early years of my career when you know we were all kind of hoping to go to war to get experience we didn't then I spent a decade at war as a general but my experience was therefore different and I had sergeants and lieutenants and captains who knew things and that experience I didn't have and so I couldn't go down to them and put my arm around him and say this is how you do this in combat because I hadn't had that experience and so the first thing you have to do is you have to get over it you have to you have to apply what we call reverse mentoring you got to ask them what works but then you got to understand you still have a role and so while that's very true we also now have a lot of senior leaders who also have been shot at a lot as well so it it's probably not as bad as you think but it's it's always going to be an issue because technology and experience changes so fast that the war even if we had fought if I had when I was a young man the experience I had wouldn't have been nearly as relevant as it might have been a hundred years ago where change wasn't as fast so it's got to be a different kind of leadership it's much more collaborative than it is directed now thank you you talk he talked about the greatest generation and and maybe there's a new greatest generation but what's happening is although Americans seem to really respect and admire people in the military there's this narrative going on about wounded warriors and people who can't really handle the stress and as a result I was talking to a army captain the other day and he said he applied to five coffee shops for job and he's pretty intelligent guy and he was rejected by all of them it's been two HR departments is that can you really handle this and so what's happening it seems is that the narrative what the media is putting out there is a very different one and as a result it's having all of these negative effects how would you address something like that yeah and really what he's talking about is post-traumatic stress stress syndrome it started people said well it's real and it is real anybody who's been in combat comes back different but it doesn't mean you come back damaged it doesn't mean you come back to range it doesn't mean you come back anything you just come back different and some people it's very hard on but the vast majority come out just fine and they come out stronger but because we're trying to take care of people we haven't communicated that as well as we could and so quite naturally there are some people business and other people who go wow I don't know if I should bring that person in because they might you know they might have issues they might get violent etc when in reality there's not a track record statistically that says that's going to happen but I know that there's a perception and I think we've got a balance our work well-intended reporting of this I think has produced some negative effects so I think we got to step back and we got to see this for what it really is most people who come back come back better because they've had experiences more mature they've been tested and whatnot and so I I think your points exactly right thank you time for just one more question oh I think we'd all like to know what you're doing now yeah it's funny when I when I got out of the service I didn't know what I wanted to do because I had not expected to get out then and that way I I got a call from a guy who asked if I'd come teach at Yale and I never even been there so I said to her so I I've just finished my fourth year at Yale and I'm gonna stay there and I'm gonna stay until at least we beat Harvard but I I'm writing a second book and if it'll be out you know in the late fall early January period about leadership and about management about these things not military it's about kind of what I've thought about it since then and I'm really excited about that and then I started a company with some Navy SEALs which is exciting and then we got a bunch of young people and what we do is we work with civilian companies on how to change your culture we don't work with defense we don't work with the government at all we go to companies and we say you the environment that we described about the speed and whatnot we help the companies try to deal with that and it's been fascinating because the reality is leadership in a corporation in the military is so similar it's shocking the only thing I'll finish with I used to when you're in the military you think civilian companies are very different and so when you just get military guys together at some point in the conversation somebody will rap the table and go we're all screwed up if we were civilian company we'd never put up with the inefficiency and stupidity we do I got out I started working with civilian companies in every meeting at some point somebody raps a table looks at me and says the military would never be this stupid would they I say now thanks so much general thank you very much you

One thought on “General Stanley McChrystal: Lessons of Leadership

  1. Opportunity and implied responsibility for a year of paid national service as a young adult 🇺🇸 citizen. Excellent idea!!! Start listening at 29 minute mark if your short on time. General McChrystal explains it beautifully. I haven’t read The Rolling Stones Article but your character is present that it is unnecessary. Perspectives vary, especially from someone not trained in your line of work. Outside pointers and observations are excellent for improving upon and providing a new strategy. However, completely uninformed people shooting of at the hip aren’t always the greatest in observational skills. Incredible discussion of depth and complexity.

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