Jeff Eggers: The Enduring Myth of Heroic Leadership
- Former Navy SEAL who served as President Obama’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs
- Credited with the mediation and resolution of the 2014 Afghan presidential electoral crisis
- Offers targeted and strategic leadership advice to clients working to manage change and increase adaptability
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Jeff Eggers is a senior policy advisor, security professional, executive coach, and leadership consultant with more than 20 years experience leading high-performing teams for the White House, Department of Defense, and US Navy. A trusted advisor to senior US government officials, Eggers served as President Obama’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, where he oversaw critical and sensitive aspects of US foreign and national security policy. Eggers is a passionate advocate for evolving models of leadership that take into account 21st century dynamics including generational clashes, rapidly advancing technologies, and shifting geopolitical forces. He believes that employees need to be empowered to make decisions in real time, and that teams operating with a powerful sense of purpose and empowered execution are most successful. Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Eggers explains why humble leadership is more important than heroic leadership, why leadership’s role is to cultivate rather than control, how a sense of “we” is the common thread amongst all high-performing teams—ranging from Formula One Racing to the Tokyo String Quartet to Navy SEALS—and why the most significant risk factors to a corporation are internal.
Jeff Eggers served for four years as the National Security Council’s Senior Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He now leads the McChrystal Group’s Leadership Institute, where he helps Fortune 500 clients focused on improving performance to train more effective leaders and create a culture that enables peak performance. A behavioral science researcher, Eggers draws on cultural trends, current events, anecdotes from his time as a Navy SEAL leader and lessons about human nature itself to share impactful and actionable insights on decision-making, silo elimination, teamwork, and change management.
Prior to joining McChrystal Group, Jeff worked with a diverse mix of clients across industries, including an NBA franchise where he helped with leadership succession. He retired from the US Navy following a successful 20 year career as a US Navy SEAL. Operational tours included positions on several SEAL Teams, commander of the Special Operations Task Unit in western Iraq, and Operations Officer and Mission Commander for the US Navy’s undersea special operations command. He served as a strategic advisor on national security matters, including the mid-2013 change of mission in Afghanistan, enabling an end to the US combat mission and shifting emphasis to Afghan security forces. He shepherded the negotiation and signing of the US-Afghanistan Strategy Partnership Agreements, and served as a strategic advisor to General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of NATO ISAF. He is credited with the mediation and resolution of the 2014 Afghan presidential electoral crisis, an effort that earned him the Samuel Nelson Drew Award, presented by President Obama for “Distinguished Contribution in Pursuit of Global Peace.”
Eggers is an adjunct senior analyst for the RAND Corporation and has been published in Fortune, Foreign Policy, POLITICO, US News and World Report, and more. He has taught courses in change management, leadership, and public policy for US intelligence agencies, the Foreign Service Institute, and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
He is a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, an advisor for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a member of the NationSwell Council, and a board member of the Special Operations Fund, a non-profit that cares for and assists the families of special operations veterans killed in action.
Leadership For the 21st Century. During the US conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jeff Eggers witnessed first-hand the troubles legacy institutions have when facing smaller, newer, and more adaptable enemies. Having served as both a leader of high-performing teams and an advisor to leaders at the highest levels of the US government including the President, he now focuses on building modern models for leadership and organizational performance that draw on lessons learned as a SEAL, in the White House, and from his extensive research into behavioral science.
Eggers looks at why humans have a “terrible track record of predicting conflict and change”—and how to better prepare for the accelerating effects of societal, technological, and business transformation—as well as what roles leadership and culture play in developing of winning teams. Jeff presents a roadmap for leadership in an unpredictable world and leaves audiences with a better understanding of where they are today and where they need to go to get ahead.
Humility, Purpose, and the Myth of Heroic Leadership. We like to view great leaders as infallible heroes who operate above mistakes, bad calls, and distress. American culture is full of examples of this type of leader—there’s George Washington and Superman, to name a few. But according to Jeff Eggers, “heroic leadership” is a myth. In this talk, Eggers explains why it’s so important for leaders to not exist “above” those they lead, and why that sort of mindset actually promotes errors and confusion. Believing that “domineering leaders are an impediment to good decision-making,” Eggers explores why a “humble leadership” style that promotes humility, empowered employees, a team mentality, and a purpose-driven culture is the antidote to the myth of heroic leadership.
Leading Innovation. Human beings are innately resistant to change. And yet we now find ourselves in one of the most transformative periods in history as a result of technology and demographics. With this talk, Eggers looks at how corporations can fight complacency, embrace rapid change, and drive innovation from the top down. Using historic examples, surprising stories, and anecdotes of companies who failed to adapt or leapfrogged the competition, Eggers paints a vivid picture for corporate survival in the 21st century.
The Behavioral Science of Organizational Performance. Retired from the White House and the US Navy, Jeff Eggers is now a prominent leadership researcher studying the underlying behavioral factors that lead to successful leadership, decision-making, and market-share dominance. Eggers evaluates organizational models from the US military and the private sector and showcases how employee and leader behavior and culture work to either breed success or drive failures. Eggers shows clients how to draw on the best parts of their existing cultural structures while supplementing or overhauling weaker areas by encouraging certain relationship structures and behaviors amongst employees and leaders.