By: Gina Angeli
“You can get knocked down, and it hurts and it leaves scars. But if you’re a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you up. And if you’re a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet.” -General Stanley McChrystal
General Stanley McChrystal led the Joint Special Operations Command during the Persian Gulf Wars and was the top commander of American forces in Afghanistan. As part of the military for over thirty years through and beyond 9/11, General McChrystal has participated in an organization and global environment that are significantly different today than they were yesterday and will continue to morph at a previously unimaginable speed. In his TED Talk “Listen, Learn… Then Lead”, he shares his learnings about leading in times of rapid change.
Some leadership lessons are timeless. General McChrystal highlights the importance of leadership as he describes his realization of just how impactful leaders are. He states (of his soldiers) “they would do what we taught them. If they come out of combat, it will be because we taught them well.” In his world, good leadership means life and death for his followers. While in our world, our leadership may not have that same risk associated with a real combat mission, it certainly carries with it the responsibility to recognize the opportunity we, as leaders, have to help others win “the battle” we undertake every day.
Leadership is important. Our people depend on us to guide them, to teach them, to take away the noise so they can focus on what is most important. In an environment that changes daily, one person cannot have all the answers all the time. To be a great leader, especially today, one must find many ways to listen and involve our people. As General McChrystal points out “a leader isn’t good because they are right; they are good because they are willing to learn and trust.”