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Portfolio (2018-10-23)
Political economy


Myth and Reality

by Eggers, JeffMangone, JasonMcChrystal, Stanley

In this new book, 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 Stanley McChrystal has studied leadership his entire adult life, from his first day at the West Point military academy to his recent work with the corporate clients of the McChrystal Group. In this follow-up to his bestselling memoir My Share of the Task and bestselling leadership and management book 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 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 American Civil War. Yet Lee 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.

McChrystal 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 al Zarqawi 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.

Stanley McChrystal retired from the U.S. Army as a four-star general after more than 34 years of service. His last assignment was as the commander of all American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. He is a senior fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and cofounder of the McChrystal Group, a leadership consulting firm.

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A convincing rebuttal of the "Great Man" theory of history.

Review: Kirkus Reviews

General Stanley McChrystal On Leadership.

Quote: Fox News

McChrystal: America has a crisis of leadership.

Quote: MSNBC

Gen. Stanley McChrystal explores myths of leadership.

Quote: CBS News

British Commonwealth: Portfolio UK ; Japanese: Nikkei Business Publications

Quote: Portfolio

Prominent first serial in the Wall Street Journal: Don't Vote for a Uniform, Vote for a Candidate.

Quote: Wall Street Journal

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