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Leaders: Myth and Reality
An instant bestseller!
Stanley McChrystal, the retired US Army general and bestselling author of Team of Teams, profiles thirteen of history’s great leaders, including Walt Disney, Coco Chanel, and Robert E. Lee, to show that leadership is not what you think it is—and never was.
Stan McChrystal served for thirty-four years in the US Army, rising from a second lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division to a four-star general, in command of all American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. During those years he worked with countless leaders and pondered an ancient question: “What makes a leader great?” He came to realize that there is no simple answer.
McChrystal profiles thirteen famous leaders from a wide range of eras and fields—from corporate CEOs to politicians and revolutionaries. He uses their stories to explore how leadership works in practice and to challenge the myths that complicate our thinking about this critical topic.
With Plutarch’s Lives as his model, McChrystal looks at paired sets of leaders who followed unconventional paths to success. For instance:
– Walt Disney and Coco Chanel built empires in very different ways. Both had public personas that sharply contrasted with how they lived in private.
– Maximilien Robespierre helped shape the French Revolution in the eighteenth century; Abu Musab al-Zarqawi led the jihadist insurgency in Iraq in the twenty-first. We can draw surprising lessons from them about motivation and persuasion.
– Both Boss Tweed in nineteenth-century New York and Margaret Thatcher in twentieth-century Britain followed unlikely roads to the top of powerful institutions.
– Martin Luther and his future namesake Martin Luther King Jr., both local clergymen, emerged from modest backgrounds to lead world-changing movements.
Finally, McChrystal explores how his former hero, General Robert E. Lee, could seemingly do everything right in his military career and yet lead the Confederate Army to a devastating defeat in the service of an immoral cause.
Leaders will help you take stock of your own leadership, whether you’re part of a small team or responsible for an entire nation.
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JASON MANGONE served for four years in the US Marine Corps, followed by positions at the Aspen Institute, the Service Year Alliance, and the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services.
JEFF EGGERS served for twenty years as a US Navy SEAL and also in government as a special assistant to the president for National Security Affairs. He is now executive director of the McChrystal Group Leadership Institute.
STANLEY McCHRYSTAL retired from the US Army as a four-star general after thirty-four years of service. His previous books, My Share of the Task and Team of Teams, were both New York Times bestsellers. He is a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and a partner at the McChrystal Group, a leadership consulting firm based in Virginia.