Newsletter 618 – A Genuinely Fresh New Perspective on Leadership

Team of Teams 2New leadership books appear almost every week. But it’s unique and refreshing to read a new, in-depth voluMcChrystal 3me, based on both experience and research, setting a new paradigm for leadership in the twenty-first century. Such is the new book by General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of all American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Co-authored with two former U.S Navy SEAL officers and a very articulate scholar currently at Cambridge University, this book describes how old models of leadership, popular and successful for centuries, have been forced to change in an era of instant Internet communication and terrorist tactics. The book describes how the military has needed to change but demonstrates how these changes must apply equally to corporations, professions like medicine, organizations and anyplace else where leadership occurs.

This book is too rich, innovative and stimulating to summarize in a few sentences. Here is the background: McChrystal was put in command of what undoubtedly was one of the best-trained and disciplined military forces ever assembled. But the enemy terrorists kept winning, manned with relatively untrained individuals and small groups who appeared from nowhere to blow up shopping malls, military installations, schools and other targets. Then these perpetrators would be gone. They had mastered the use of free and accessible technology to communicate instantly before they died or disappeared. Almost overnight the elements of warfare that McChrystal learned in the military academy were largely powerless against a new kind of cyber-sophisticated and connected enemy. Especially irrelevant was the old micromanagement and chain of command that defined the military and still dominates so much of our culture.

As I read I thought of leadership in higher education and adult learning, including ministry and counselor education. So-called leaders still micromanage, set visions and expect others to comply, follow the rigid innovative-squelching guidelines of accrediting agencies, and fail to see that a new technological age requires new methods, skills and leadership. This is reflected in the title of the book by McChrystal and his colleagues: Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World. Commands and guidelines from the top of a hierarchy are too slow. Models for counseling, ministry or coaching don’t always work. Individuals, teams and groups of teams throughout the system must be equipped and empowered to make quick decisions on their own. They need a new kind of leadership.

Have any of you read this new book? Even if you have not, please comment.

To hear an interview with General McChrystal go to:


  1. Greetings Gary. Don Lichi here. Thx for brief summary if McCrystals book. His brother Scott McCrystal was a guest mine recently when I taught a D.Min class on Crisis counseling for AGTS in Springfield MO. Hope you are well. On way to teach class in Singapore and then on to Seoul S Korea to visit son serving as officer in Navy. Cancer number has dropped to zero and working hard at Emerge. Blessings to you and Julie Don

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. I saw the authors on book tv (CSPAN) and was instantly converted. As someone repelled by leadership models in the past (40 years in business and ministry), I think the insights offered here may lead to some real and significant breakthroughs in thought and practice. Expect tremendous resistance from the traditional crowd…. everything from power schemes to pay schemes will have to be realigned and they will not quietly comply!


  3. I saw him speak at the ASTD conference in 2014. I was most impressed when he described being able to rally several military organizations to work together and share information so that they could get the target they were after. Previously the target was able to get away because each branch had different information that they were not allowed to share. (It was a little strange to be at a Training & Development event and the moral of the leadership story was that they were able to come together and kill a key opposition leader.)


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