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tv   Stanley Mc Chrystal Leaders  CSPAN  November 22, 2018 8:30pm-9:15pm EST

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in donald trump enemies. and when we talk about rape. exploring the global conversation around sexual assault. i will look at this week's new book releases continues. with historian andrew lamberts look at history is greatest naval powers. and in the model thinker, an economics professor scott page explained how data can be organized and interpreted. look for these titles at bookstores this coming week. and watch for many of these authors in the near future on booktv on c-span2. [inaudible conversations] >> hello, can you hear me? yes. great! hello?
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welcome, everyone! welcome! good evening. you can hear, okay, better? a little better? good evening. number not -- it is on. the back is saying they cannot hear.i will try to project as much as possible. okay.good evening everyone. my name is adele gulfo and i am chief of commercial development at royant sciences. we are excited to begin a series of conversations with a remarkable leader, general stanley mcchrystal. before we begin, please join me in thanking margo, alyssa abbott, kristin and the cornell club for making the event happen. stand up, please. [applause] thank you.
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general stanley mcchrystal has been called one of america's greatest warriors, a retired four-star general the formal commander of the joint special operations committee or jsop and former commander of u.s. and international forces in afghanistan. the general is perhaps the most best known for developing and incrementing the counterinsurgency strategy in afghanistan.and for creating a comprehensive counterterrorism organization that revolutionized inter-agency culture. imagine if he got military agencies to work together. what that must have been like. his leadership of jsoc is credited with the capture of saddam hussein and the death of the leader of al qaeda. over as many decades of leadership in the field,
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general mcchrystal came to realize that our models for identifying, educating and evaluating leaders, are woefully his latest book, leaders, myth and reality. he profiles 13 famous leaders from a wide range of fields, including margaret thatcher, robert e lee, coco chanel, walt disney, just to name a few. general mcchrystal is also the author of two other bestsellers. my share of the task, a memoir. and team of teams. new rules of engagement for a complex world. if you have not already, i encourage you to read them. paul davis, head of communications at roivant will be connecting to nights interview. without further ado please join me in welcoming general mcchrystal and paul davis.
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[applause] >> great, as adele said, the title of the book is leaders and reality. general mcchrystal, what are the most prevalent myths? >> let me first thank you for having me today and thank you for r the wonderful introductio. let me say that my two co-authors are in the room today. jeff, a former navy seal and jay, a former marine. together, we have this cumulative amazing iq and i left the group, it would have gone slightly. [laughter] when the tough questions come,
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the right answers are back there. thank you for being here and thank you for being on the team. [applause] now the question? >> were the most prevalent myths about -- christopher smith, we study it and read books on it. we categorize ourselves as leaders. but i went through a lifetime of trying to lead, trying to learn to lead as my adco-author did. and yet, we never really felt we got it. so we went back to the first principle with this. when all the way and said, all right, let's go back to figure it out. and we started in the conclusion we came to was a little -- leadership is not what we think it is and it never has been. we have lived mythology about leadership. i grew up with a mother that loved mythology and so she read to me all the time. i have a little orange book that she got when she was five
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years old. in tennessee. and one of the myths in it i loved. it is about atlas. and you have got this muscular atlas standing on a mountaintop holding up the sky. anything amazing, for a long time, people accepted that. they said, the sky is still up there so someone must be holding it up! any think aboutit is fine of -- we came to three myths as we studying 13 leaders per the first was the formulaic test. if you follow a list of behaviors and a list of traits or that sort of thing and have all those, you're likely to be a good leader. and yet, when we studied it, we found their people that have all of those. you are absolutely unsuccessful.envy of other people that have none of them who are rich, face, successful, whatever you want to call it.
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and so formula is disproven time and again. the second is the attribution myth. and that is, what happens in an organization success or failure can usually be traced back to the leader. and we found that is not true either. in fact, what happens in an n organization, the outcome is often only marginally affected by the leader. when i got out of the military wrote my memoirs. come people to you and so you have to write your history, you have to write your memoirs. it is easier said than done. so we go to write my memoirs and i say how hard can this be? this is a story, the play of my life and i am the star. it should not be hard because i was there. but we did all of these interviews in preparation for the book. what we found was, my memory of things was usually not completely wrong but it was always incomplete.
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so i would have made this great decisive decision, something would happen and i will get credit for it. but then when we get all the interviews we find that there are hundreds of other people doing things, hugely important. there are other factors affecting it. and it meant that i still matter. but i did not matter like i thought i did. and then the last one is results. you say we hire or elect or select or promote leaders because they get results. they make us money, they win battlefield victories e and elections. reality is, we do a blind test, we don't. we support serial failures. we follow people take us places. we know we do not want to go. we promote people who never really have been very successful. and that is because as we found, leaders, it is not an objective transactional relationship between follower
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and leader. it is organic, it is visceral, emotional connection that we make. and they fill some requirements and assess people. so as a consequence we tend to be supportive or loyal to people that in many cases, results would not support. so these three myths put together, mean that when we look at leadership, we are doing it through blurred glasses. we've got this fog. even though we know it, it persists. petsand i would argue that it i pretty costly in many ways for us. >> use a that this myth is toxic and intoxicating. why is it so attractive and why are people drawn to the notion that individuals are responsible? >> it is simple. i mean first and foremost you say, if things are bad, we will wait for the great woman or man to show up and make it better. you think about it, almost any
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of the leaders that have held on exalted status, we put the spotlight on them. and we said that they bent the arc of history. and in many cases they had a big effect but it really makes it -- george washington founded the united states of america. well that is not in fact true. he was there, he was part of it. but if you go back to just any number of leaders, we tend to want to simplify. the danger of that is that we have simplified it dramatically. with a couple of things, a couple of problems. we have ignored all the other factors, personalities and complexity of it. and number two, we have the tendency to wait around for the next great person. we say we are not happy with the way things are and we wait for someone to come along. they never will. someone may come along and may show themselves as that, they
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may advertise that. but they are not really that. and we have to understand that they never will be. >> the leadership in the eye states right now, -- >> i think that if you look at our nation, it is divided politically, socially, economically, and we could go on down. and so, that is sort of obvious. that is what we see every day. we've got to the point where we do not believe many of the leaders that speak to us. we watch on television, someone said something and we immediately discount it.i would say if you have someone that works for you and they lie to you, you probably would not work with them anymore. if you had a client and you lie to them, they probably would not work with you anymore. but it is not just political leaders. you think of our corporations and whatnot. the length of tour for a ceo now has strength dramatically. what has happened is we get
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very unhappy with senior leaders very quickly. partly because we put them on a pedestal and no one can pameet expectations. partly because we created this atmosphere in which it is very difficult to lead right now. and so we have a case where i think leaders in many cases do not live up to requirements. the best they can be. but clearly, we also create an environment where leading is extraordinarily difficult. >> in terms of the book itself why did you choose these particular individuals? >> we have this dartboard and we are just starting out. what we did was, -- did a series of pairings of greek and roman. romulus and theseus and whatnot, founders. we wanted to look across the spectrum of leaders and different fields, backgrounds, diversity. we wanted diversity of sex, diversity of nations, diversity
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of the field they were in and whatnot. so we came up with six genre. we came out with geniuses. albert einstein -- we came out with founders. walt disney, coco chanel. you will be surprise, i did not even know who coco chanel was. [laughter] but i do now! [laughter] we came up with powerbrokers. we came up with margaret thatcher, we came up with reforms, martin luther and then martin luther king jr., his namesake. we came out with heroes. harriet tubman and the chinese admiral -- then we had a stand alone. the standalone was general robert e lee. and we put him because of all the figures in my life in my youth, he was the iconic leader. i went to the school he went
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to. and to me he was the exemplar of military and quality leadership. and it is complex to write about robert e lee now. and i have a complex relationship with his memory. but i did not think i could honestly write a book about leaders, without adjusting the one that had probably spent the most time in my life thinking about. >> you said that we -- you have a portrait of lee that you wife gave you and you threw it out. why did you change your mind about that? >> my wife of 41 years is in the back. when i was a second lieutenant, she spent $25 and bought me this painting of robert e lee. quite a painting you get for $25. framed! and it really was just a print of the more famous painting. and they put acrylic on it to make it look like it. everywhere we lived, i loved
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it because this was the symbol of what i thought about leadership. when people came in, they would say, this is what stanley mcchrystal admires. then after charlottesville, to be honest, annie asked me, what about the picture? i said what do you mean?you gave it to me and i could never get rid of something gave me. and she says i don't think means for everybody, what it does to you. i think it is sending an unintended signal. that some people may leave our home with. and we talked about it. at first he said no, no, he is just made dier, he the decision to go to the south. she said maybe in your eyes and maybe even in his eyes, but not in a lot of peoples eyes. so after about a month, us talking about in me thinking about it, i took it down and threw it away. she was absolutely right! however, we think about robert e lee in many ways, his legacy became used by people to
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include some of the iconic statues. to send a message that i do not seek association with. so i took it down. he is a complicated character. much about robert e lee's extraordinarily -- something we should admire. if he was here today, he will be the most impressive person in the room. but reality is that a key moment in his life, after 32 years in the united states army, he made the decision to violate the oath that i also made on the plane at west point. states and not only against it but try to destroy it. the very nation that his role models, george washington had created. and he did it in defense of slavery. there is a conflict there. and i'm not here to tie that
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robert ely is an evil guy but here i'm telling you, the one moment, the biggest decision of his life, he got it completely wrong. and i cannot ignore that. and i have to learn from that. >> now, you know, serving in the army was not the thing to do. most of the soldiers died, two thirds of the infantry men. why would people so drawn to him and captured by leadership? >> this is was interesting. general lee took over in 1862. and from then on, until the end of the war he come into the army in northern virginia for the south. he had a higher casualty rate among his army than any other commander in u.s. history. we talk about general patton and any of the other unit commanders or ulysses grant, incurred a lot of casualties. nobody got close to robert e lee.
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if you interesting men -- infantry, you had 71 percent casualty. grant is not even in the same neighborhood as that. and yet, robert e lee 's army stayed entirely loyal to him through the war. then after the war until 1870. and in his memory just kept getting burnished even more. here is a guy if you look at results, he had a huge casualty rate. and he lost. not a small thing. and yet, the loyalty to him, and part of it was how he was. he was a charismatic, devoted person. he was loyal to his people, personally courageous with them. all of the things that make us feel good about working for someone or around someone. d.robert ely epitomizes that. immediately after his death,
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there was just this series of extraordinary platitudes that described him as the tegreatest american general. by franklin roosevelt, anwinsto churchill. just really iconic members of our history putting lee in a category by himself. >> in terms of other people, you mentioned disney, talk about walt disney. and it doesn't seem to be the most pleasant box. praise, demanding, perfectionist. but people would drop everything to go work for walt disney. why is that? >> he is a talented animator but in 1934, after some success, they created mickey mouse. and they done some technological things. in an evening in 1934 he gave every employee in the employ 50 cent and said to get dinner and then come back to work. to an auditorium. in the auditorium that night for the next three hours, he
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acted out every part in a story that he wanted to create a full-length animated feature of. it turned out to be snow whwhit. he played the dwarfs, he played snow white, he played the huntsman. all on the stage, magnetic in front of people. when he was asking them seems kind of normal now. it was actually not normal. it had never been a full-length animated feature before. cartoons had preceded movies and did funny little things. he created the first sound. he is trying to make a movie in which people are not just entertained for a few minutes. or made to last. tehe wanted to make an animated picture in which you could also make you cry. and completely new territory. for the next three years, he pushed his team, he led his team, he worked with his team to make this extraordinary
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picture. he mortgaged his home, he mortgaged the business, intellectual property. he put it all on the line. at one point, as a working through because he is such a perfectionist. one of his animators, you remember the seven dwarfs, there were about 40 names that they went to before they came with the seven. you have dopey at the end and they had dopey walk and .as the seventh one. as the dwarfs move on. and dopey does this step. walt disney saw it and said, i want every time dopey comes into a scene, to do that step. it cost him six months of going back and working reanimation. but it was that level of perfectionism to try and create something that not only was new, but it was a standard nobody else could get close to. that kind of leadership is intoxicating for people who get to be part of it.
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you want to be on that team. he paid them well. he pushed them hard, he treated them well. but really, the thing we most want in life to be as part of a very special team and todo something of real value. answer 1937, when the movie came out and use an extraordinary hit. it reinforced for him and the power. the company got bigger, he had trouble scaling his own leadership style. but you can see why he could pull people to them. >> people that you know very well, -- you begin the description of him talking about removing his tattoo in a jordanian prison. can't talk about that? >> he ultimately led -- the godfather of isis. he is the person they talk about. they do not talk about osama bin laden. he started life in a tough jordanian industrial town.
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he was a bully and got involved in fights, alcohol, tattoos. but then as he got a little older, he became ideologically very interesting and islam. he went to afghanistan and became very interested in the holy warriors, the idea of jihad. ioso he comes back after that experience, starts to plot against the jordanian government, gets caught pretty quickly and thrown into , priso. here's a guy without real education or religious education. but in prison, he finds the environment in which he can do very well. he studies religion, he studies islam. he is the personal discipline to show himself to the ideologically committed.he tries to use bleach to remove the tattoos. when that does not work he has a razor blade, smuggled into the prison and he cuts off the
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tattoo that was offensive to islam. and he did it in a way that other convicts, inmates saw. and so what he was doing was showing people look, i am committed. and he also was very strict with them. he says you must live up to the standards as well. and so when they were ooffende in the prison, he would be the guy who would basically intimidate them. but when there were others that need help, he was extraordinarily loyal to them as well. wouldn't it was show himself a natural leader. he was not intellectually superior. in fact he was intellectually inferior to most. but he was so committed, so convicted, we could say.
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that he became very magnetic to the people around him. and when he left at the five years in prison, he realized what he had with the ability to lead. and the way he would do that is leading by example. his exact same thing i learned as a military officer. by example. when it's hard so you can do it. and he did that. later in a fight in iraq, horrific as he was, he personally beheaded people. he was willing to walk the walk. he was willing to be completely committed, willing to put himself at risk and ultimately he died for the cause. in that made him extraordinarily powerful. >> do you think he achieved what he set out to do? >> absolute. his goal was to transfer but the near-term goal was the civil war in iraq between the sunni and shea
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-- shia he wanted to incite the shia and terrify the sunni. what we saw after that was that playing out. and so in reality, mostly -- >> another topic, you written about the role of the military and politics. and during the 40 years from eisenhower to george h. w. bush we have a series of eight presidents, last four have not served. doyou think is a good thing? a bad thing? what are your views on the degree to which military
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strength is useful as serving the presidency? >> i think with the duke context for first there were certain periods where we had a huge percentage of people serving like world war alii. we are likely to people and politics and serve because so many people did. and so i think that just reflects the times. i think now we have the opposite, very small percentage of the population serving in the military. so a lot of people just don't have the experience. so i have some views. the first is, they should be people that serve in the military going into politics. but just because you served in the military, it is not a qualification. because been in the military i will tell you there are a lot of people i would not vote for that put a gun to my head. nor should you!u [laughter] joe mccarthy was in uniform. reality is, you do not judge by the breed, you judge by the individual. that experience can be great because you can become more and see things in a less simplified way and you start to understand what life can be. so i think is a good thing but it is just a data point.go the other thing i would say is, i think all former professional military people make it a
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career, there should be a time when selected people like dwight eisenhower, ulysses s grant goes to the president's where the senator or something senior. i think that's a good thing. sebut it should not be viewed a a normal route into politics. because if that happened, if being a politician, senior politician in the u.s. was best facilitated by going to g military and being a general in doing that, you would change the officer corps. it would take a generation or so, but you would change and we would be a lot like some countries whose governments were not as comfortable with. and so i think it ought to be an aberration, an occasional thing. but you do not want people entering the military because they think that is the way to get to be a senior politician. we have separation. end the day we do not have separation we will wish we had separation again.>> 34 years in the military, you have been
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private sector since 2010. are the things that military can learn from private sector? >> absolute. it is funny. we are certainly walled off from the private sector. i spent a year as a colonel, that was the biggest look i really forgot at the private sector. you know, i was sort of shocked of the things i did. i spent one year as a fellow at harvard. i had a young person come to me one day and d they said, you ar in the military. and i said, i am! and he had a quizzical look. he said wow! because you seem kind of smart. [laughter] and i realize, he knew a little about me as i knew about him. and i think it is very unfortunate we have so little interaction. after i got out of the service i got to know civilian people in business, and different things. there was so much i wish i'd known. i would've been desperate to
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spend two or three years in a civilian corporation. the middle of my career and come back in the army. because many businesses do things so much smarter than the army. the army does something so much smarter than businesses.but we do not find that out until too late. and we look over the fence and think the other people have it going on. ... world is a godless bathroom. but just extraordinarily efficient. >> .. with a straight face. it's exactly the same.
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the same mistakes and strengths but the problem is we don't allow ourselves to love enough. it led to your resignation and have you thought anything about your own over the course of your time to. i got along with president obama so well and still do. the relationship between the presidents and senior military isn't what it should be. it's not negative, is to separate it. they don't understand of these well enough, so as a consequence there isn't a real familiar --
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there's almost a fear of the other into used to tell people remember when you wear your uniform that doesn't help the conversation, that stops it. it's like a wall because that is what people see. president kennedy after the bay of pigs was advised by someone the next time you want the military to breach on a plan if it's still impressive it might be good. that is a fair point so you think about that. here's what i think about now. to say what do we want for our president, forget about the democrat or republican, what values do we want and qualities and experience?
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let's write that down and talk about it. i don't think we would be that far apart in the different parts of the aisle. we have a bunch of candidates come u,and we try to trace the. if we started with that and we said we want this, this and this and then we said are we willing to demand back of our leaders and of ourselves then we might start to reach different conclusions because at the end of the day, the study we found is the interaction between the leaders and followers extraordinary that means they have a big responsibility. we can to stop by and say bad president or congress, whatever. we support or don't support them and the reality is if we like some things that don't like
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other things and there are compromises to be made that if we like the on one thing becaust benefits us and we think something is terribly and we don't do something about it, it's not going to treat us well. but i think it's a time in america when we need to stop looking at the tv, starts looking in the mirror and make tough evaluations of ourselves. >> you say it won't make you into a great reader on discipline or personal stupidi stupidity. that is a misprint, the prologue. if you read this book, trust me.
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we need to look back at history to understand that because if we look back and have a simplified eview of them, if we think coco chanel was a perfect thing and will send a ping to work for but extraordinarily talented as a marketer, we start to think how we should lead in a skewed way and we start to look around for this character and a lot are only happy to portray themselves in two dimensions because it is easier. so, we've got to go back and tear apart these leaders. everyone was flawed. but at the same time some of them did somela amazing thing ad in many cases they did amazing things because they were part of the team's. it's not that martin luther king
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had a cause i was a brilliant speaker and a charismatic guy, it was to pull together the disparate groups against great resistance and against uneven political house and he kept it going into the david the movement kept going it wasn't about martin luther king jr., it was about everyone in the movement and i'm not sure many come along that can do that but we need to understand that was the miracle, not the i have a dream speech. >> how do they get the technical things right and how do we find leaders to get the psychological things right so that we don't lose all of our allies when we
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don't also deal with people like this? how we get a leader but also the emotional issues to maintain our alliances. first off you are not looking for a leader and i think the next shouldn't be about a person. it ought to be about the team. with the candidates that i have 100 people across the u.s., accomplished people who are already sworn to spend at least two years in this administration bringing forth the right answers and giving th doing the right td you didn't judge just that person because nobody is smart enough to have all the answers. someone good enough to pull together a team can do amazing things. things. a seniothe senior leader howevee are certain things they have to
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providprovide him as he talked t the emotional part, the representational part, the inspirational part, there is a role only the most senior leader can be the head of and other people should reflect as well but there are things we want most senior leaders to the and make us better than we are. i remember having them tired wanting to take anyone to stand up and backed leader walks by i know they are more tired than i did suddenly they stanbut sudded make me want to do that. leader does even if they never know the technical answers you can get people to get them. all you have to do a at the plae history multiple choice act you just have to get the right kind of advisors and that's the way we ought to think about that in. >> i think he'
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>> i think he's talking to me. [laughter] the other question is albeit you think about writing about hitler, ho chi minh, castro. [inaudible] >> that's a great question. we have the leaders like is anyone going to run for office. we looked at all those in great detail and got closer just because i think that hitler had been written about so much that it probably wouldn't be as informative. it would have been interesting and we looked closely. what we fear is certainly he was
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pushing for virtue with saying that by we are going to spill a lot of blood. so it doesn't come out in your most pantheon of people. so, we thought we recovered up and showed that it could still be effective in the production in some ways. so i think that when we looked at those we were trying to get a balance that we spend more hours and almost got into fist fights over them. to be honest, the one i lost and i'm still deeply bitter about was the t. crockett. i just loved the walt disney show about it. [laughter] may bmaybe in the next book.
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>> one final question. we've been involved in afghanistan for too long. what's the problem? >>ask what's the problem. afghanistan has been at war and there's already a complex tribal place to begin with. there are a few things first afghanistan isn't the same place that it was on 9/11. the number of females have been for almost a generation, 17 years. my generation is going to have to get off stage.
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4.4 million afghans voted this week, which is pretty impressive considering the situation. there is still corruption and challenges. the partnership with the people is important. we look at what happened after world war ii and what we did in japan and europe. those are painful, expensive and whatnot. but by making a commitment over time it pays off in the long term. i would argue we should be open-minded but if i'm not a proponent, i'm walking away. i think it sends a message not only to afghans, but to the world and that becomes one of the negatives of being in the united states. hopefully the world will go on
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forever and we are going to have to be connected. the world is connected now. this idea of america first and lived inside the u.s. isn't the way and a lot of those places i think there is a commitment. but your point is absolutely well taken. >> please join me in thanking the gentleman. [applause] please remain seated so we can have an efficient process.
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