Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

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What if you could combine the agility, adaptability, and cohesion of a small team with the power and resources of a giant organization?

THE OLD RULES NO LONGER APPLY . . .

When General Stanley McChrystal took command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2004, he quickly realized that conventional military tactics were failing. Al Qaeda in Iraq was a decentralized network that could move quickly, strike ruthlessly, then seemingly vanish into the local population. The allied forces had a huge advantage in numbers, equipment, and training—but none of that seemed to matter.

TEACHING A LEVIATHAN TO IMPROVISE
It’s no secret that in any field, small teams have many ad­vantages—they can respond quickly, communicate freely, and make decisions without layers of bureaucracy. But organizations taking on really big challenges can’t fit in a garage. They need management practices that can scale to thousands of people.
 
General McChrystal led a hierarchical, highly disci­plined machine of thousands of men and women. But to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, his Task Force would have to acquire the enemy’s speed and flexibility. Was there a way to combine the power of the world’s mightiest military with the agility of the world’s most fearsome terrorist network? If so, could the same principles apply in civilian organizations?

A NEW APPROACH FOR A NEW WORLD
McChrystal and his colleagues discarded a century of conventional wisdom and remade the Task Force, in the midst of a grueling war, into something new: a network that combined extremely transparent communication with decentralized decision-making authority. The walls between silos were torn down. Leaders looked at the best practices of the smallest units and found ways to ex­tend them to thousands of people on three continents, using technology to establish a oneness that would have been impossible even a decade earlier. The Task Force became a “team of teams”—faster, flatter, more flex­ible—and beat back Al Qaeda.

BEYOND THE BATTLEFIELD

In this powerful book, McChrystal and his colleagues show how the challenges they faced in Iraq can be rel­evant to countless businesses, nonprofits, and other or­ganizations. The world is changing faster than ever, and the smartest response for those in charge is to give small groups the freedom to experiment while driving every­one to share what they learn across the entire organiza­tion. As the authors argue through compelling examples, the team of teams strategy has worked everywhere from hospital emergency rooms to NASA. It has the potential to transform organizations large and small.


From the Hardcover edition.
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About the author

Stanley McChrystal retired from the U.S. Army as a four-star general after more than thirty-four years of service. His last assignment was as the commander of all American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. His memoir, My Share of the Task, was a New York Times bestseller. He is a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the cofounder of CrossLead, a leadership consulting firm. Tantum Collins is currently studying international relations at Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar. David Silverman and Chris Fussell are senior execu­tives at CrossLead and former U.S. Navy SEAL officers.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
May 12, 2015
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780698178519
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Leadership
Business & Economics / Organizational Behavior
Business & Economics / Workplace Culture
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"General McChrystal is a legendary warrior with a fine eye for enduring lessons about leadership, courage, and consequence." —Tom Brokaw

General Stanley McChrystal is widely admired for his hunger to know the truth, his courage to find it, and his humility to listen to those around him. Even as the commanding officer of all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, he stationed himself forward and frequently went on patrols with his troops to experience their challenges firsthand. In this illuminating New York Times bestseller, McChrystal frankly explores the major episodes and controversies of his career. He describes the many outstanding leaders he served with and the handful of bad leaders he learned not to emulate. And he paints a vivid portrait of how the military establishment turned itself, in one generation, into the adaptive, resilient force that would soon be tested in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the wider War on Terror.

"A compelling account of his impressive career." -The Wall Street Journal '

"This is a brilliant book about leadership wrapped inside a fascinating personal narrative." -Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

Stanley McChrystal retired in July 2010 as a four-star general in the U.S. Army. His last assignment was as the commander of the International Security Assistance Force and as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He is currently a senior fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and cofounder of the McChrystal Group, a leadership consulting firm. He and his wife, Annie, live in Virginia.
An updated edition of the blockbuster bestselling leadership book that took America and the world by storm, two U.S. Navy SEAL officers who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War demonstrate how to apply powerful leadership principles from the battlefield to business and life.

Sent to the most violent battlefield in Iraq, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s SEAL task unit faced a seemingly impossible mission: help U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a city deemed “all but lost.” In gripping firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories in SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, they learned that leadership—at every level—is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.

Willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training that helped forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After departing the SEAL Teams, they launched Echelon Front, a company that teaches these same leadership principles to businesses and organizations. From promising startups to Fortune 500 companies, Babin and Willink have helped scores of clients across a broad range of industries build their own high-performance teams and dominate their battlefields.

Now, detailing the mind-set and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult missions in combat, Extreme Ownership shows how to apply them to any team, family or organization. Each chapter focuses on a specific topic such as Cover and Move, Decentralized Command, and Leading Up the Chain, explaining what they are, why they are important, and how to implement them in any leadership environment.

A compelling narrative with powerful instruction and direct application, Extreme Ownership revolutionizes business management and challenges leaders everywhere to fulfill their ultimate purpose: lead and win.

The bestselling author of Team of Teams dismantles the Great Man theory of leadership, by profiling leaders whose real stories defy their legends.

Retired four-star general Stan McChrystal has studied leadership his whole adult life, from his first day at West Point to his most recent work with the corporate clients of the McChrystal Group. In this follow-up to his bestsellers My Share of the Task and Team of Teams, McChrystal explores what leadership really means, debunking the many myths that have surrounded the concept. He focuses on thirteen great leaders, showing that the lessons we commonly draw from their lives are seldom the correct ones.

Chief among the leaders profiled is Robert E. Lee, one of McChrystal's heroes and is an icon to this day at West Point. On paper, Lee was the ideal leader. He excelled in every way possible for an Army officer in the decades before the Civil War. Yet Lee ultimately made the wrong choice about which side to serve--and then failed to lead his side to victory. Exploring Lee's life and leadership style, McChrystal explains how his idol's downfall forced him to rethink his own core assumptions.

He also profiles pairs of unlikely leaders from diverse eras and fields, showing that leaders often use dramatically different tactics to achieve similar results. These include:

Founders: Walt Disney built his empire thinking he was a man of the people, but was actually a bit of a tyrant to the working man. Coco Chanel hid her plebian background to pretend she was an aristocrat, but was obsessed with making clothes for the common people.
Zealots: Maximilien Robespierre whipped his revolutionaries into a frenzy through his writing, while Abu Musab Zarkawi moved on the front lines of the battlefield, winning over his followers through his personal charisma.
Powerbrokers: Margaret Thatcher and Boss Tweed, whose respective reigns depended on the networks they cultivated.

Other leaders profiled include geniuses Albert Einstein and Leonard Bernstein, reformers Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr., and heroes Harriet Tubman and Zheng He.

Ultimately, McChrystal posits that different environments will require different leaders, and that followers will choose the leader they need. Aspiring leaders will be best served not by cultivating a standard set of textbook leadership qualities, but by learning to discern what is required in each situation.
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