This past fall, General Stanley McChrystal addressed organizational leaders at The Walsh Group 2017 Lake Geneva strategy meetings. McChrystal is a retired United States Army general best known for his command of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the mid-2000s, and Commander of the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. From the frontlines to the boardroom, General McChyrstal discussed leadership and how to best function within a large organization.
McChrystal reflected on his leadership path and his lessons learned to make his teams better, and different. “To become different, you have to decide where you are and who you are,” he said. McChrystal said it took about 20 years of learning, and serving, in the military before he considered himself a professional. He had gained his knowledge through training, willingness to learn, going to war and commanding 2,100 rangers.
When it came time to take on his greatest leadership role, he would find that communication and organization changes were needed to keep operations moving forward and different from the competition.
The JSOC story began in April 1980, when President Carter approved Operation Eagle Claw to end the Iran hostage crisis and rescue 52 staff held captive at the US Embassy. The operation tragically failed, with eight Americans killed during the process. “It wasn’t a lack of talent, commitment or competency that caused the failure. What happened was that a team of multiple military branches who had never worked with each other before was put together,” said McChrystal.
From here, a special task force was created to study operations requirements and techniques, named the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). JSOC was established to ensure compatibility of communications and procedures within the military. Full article.