Stanley McChrystal

Former Commander of U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan, Best-Selling Author of "Risk: A User's Guide," "Team of Teams," and "My Share of the Task," and Co-Founder of the McChrystal Group
  • Widely credited with revolutionizing warfare by fusing intelligence and operations
  • Led JSOC, the military’s most secretive branch, from 2003-2008
  • Teaches coveted graduate seminar in leadership at Yale
  • Discusses counterterrorism and geopolitics, leadership, and structural innovation

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"To hear McChrystal, 60, talk about leadership is like hearing Steve Jobs talk about innovation or Henry Ford talk about productivity. The former general is a warrior and visionary who turned a bulky bureaucracy into a fast-moving force that helped wipe out Al-Qaeda in Iraq and is credited with turning the tide of that war as well as the one in Afghanistan." – WIRED Magazine

A one-of-a-kind commander with a remarkable record of achievement, General Stan McChrystal is widely praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. He is also known for developing and implementing the counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan and for creating a comprehensive counter-terrorism organization that revolutionized the way military agencies interact and operate.

A four-star general, he is the former commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan and the former leader of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees the military’s most sensitive forces. His leadership of JSOC is credited with the 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein and the 2006 location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. He is also the best-selling author of the leadership books, Risk: A User's Guide, Leaders: Myth and Reality, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, and My Share of the Task: A Memoir. Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, McChrystal, a former Green Beret, is known for his candor, innovative leadership, and going the distance. Called “one of America’s greatest warriors” by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, few can speak about leadership, teamwork, and international affairs/geopolitics with as much insight.

Thirty-Four Years of Service. The son and grandson of Army officers, McChrystal graduated from West Point in 1976 and was commissioned as an infantry officer.   He later trained at the Special Forces School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina and spent much of his career commanding special operations and airborne infantry units. During the Persian Gulf War, McChrystal served in a Joint Special Operations Task Force and later commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment. He also completed year-long fellowships at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997 and at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2000. He was promoted to brigadier general in 2001.

In 2002, he was appointed chief of staff of military operations in Afghanistan. Two years later, McChrystal was selected to deliver the nationally televised Pentagon briefings about military operations in Iraq. From 2003–2008, he commanded JSOC and was responsible for leading the nation’s deployed military counter-terrorism efforts around the globe, assuming command of all international forces in Afghanistan in June 2009. President Obama’s order for an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan was based on McChrystal’s assessment of the war.

Supporting Military Families and National Service. Since retiring from the military, McChrystal has served on several corporate boards of directors, that include Fiscal Note, Accent Technologies, General Atomics, and Second Front. McChrystal is the chair of Service Year Alliance, a project of Be The Change and the Aspen Institute, which envisions a future in which a service year is a cultural expectation and common opportunity for every young American. He is also a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, where he teaches a popular course on leadership.

General McChrystal co-founded the McChrystal Group in 2010. Its mission is to deliver innovative leadership solutions to organizations which help them transform and succeed in challenging and dynamic environments.

Four-Star Strategy Lessons. A dynamic, powerful speaker, McChrystal impresses audiences with field-tested leadership lessons, stressing a uniquely inclusive model that focuses on building teams capable of relentlessly pursuing results. When old systems fall short, he believes true leaders must look for ways to innovate and change. Citing stories from his career, McChrystal reveals a four-star management strategy, concentrating on openness, teamwork, and forward-thinking.

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General Stan McChrystal on Leadership and Teamwork

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Lessons in Leadership. In dynamic presentations on leadership, General Stan McChrystal shares lessons based on leading and innovating one of the world’s largest organizations. Modern warfare and business demand the same no-nonsense leadership that drives change and implements it across large organizations. He reveals the power of culture, communication, and relationships, sharing stories, experiences, and principles that make his points. McChrystal addresses such key leadership principles as transparency and inclusion, leveraging the power of teams through relationships, leading by influence, relentless mission focus, and sharing a clear vision with everyone who must execute against it.

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World. In this captivating presentation on the significance of teamwork, Gen. McChrystal draws on research conducted for his New York Times best-seller Team of Teams, along with examples from his time leading extremely high-performing teams in wartime, to provide a 360-degree view of the role teamwork plays in today’s success equation. Hitting on the many ingredients of effective teamwork including transparent communication and a decentralized power network that allows for split-second, empowered decision-making, McChrystal’s compelling insights and thought-provoking examples pave the way for real transformation at organizations large and small.

Understanding Risk & Mastering the Unknown. Retired four-star general Stan McChrystal has lived a life associated with the deadly risks of combat. From his first day at West Point, to his years in Afghanistan, to his efforts helping business leaders navigate a global pandemic, McChrystal has seen how individuals and organizations fail to mitigate risk. Why? Because they focus on the probability of something happening instead of the interface by which it can be managed.

In this talk, adapted from his book, Risk: A User’s Guide, McChrystal offers an entirely new way to understand risk and master the unknown – focused not on odds, but on a readiness to respond – and shares his battle-tested system for detecting and responding to risk. Using real-life examples from his military experiences and the business world, he illustrates the ten dimensions of control that organizations can use to maintain healthy Risk Immune Systems and identify, analyze, and exert mastery over any type of risk they might face. With McChrystal’s hard-won guidance, groups will walk away with practical exercises to improve preparedness and resistance to build a strong defense against what we know—and what we don't.

Leaders: Myth and Reality. In this speech based on his 2018 best-selling book Leaders: Myth and Reality, Gen. McChrystal looks at 13 influential leaders throughout history—from war Generals to business tycoons to civil rights icons and even an al Qaeda despot—to provoke a new and necessary conversation on leadership. McChrystal tackles burning questions around what real leadership is, the roles leaders ought to play, where the kind of leadership that incites loyal followers comes from, and more. A fascinating walk through the past aimed at enlightening and empowering the leaders of our present and future, this speech is ideal for any leader that wants to grow their footprint by empowering their people.

Conversation with the McChrystal Group: Practical Advice for Leadership in Crisis. A four-star general, Stanley McChrystal is widely credited with revolutionizing warfare by fusing intelligence and operations - leading more than 150,000 troops through a virtual command base. Serving on McChrystal’s senior staff, former U.S. Navy Seal Chris Fussell observed leading through crisis first-hand, leveraging digital platforms to drive effective action across the globe. Together, they now lead the leadership consulting group McChrystal Group and are offering a pre-recorded webinar talk on practical tactics for leading through a crisis – that you can distribute to your audience to watch at their convenience. You can then book a 30-45 minute live or virtual discussion with General McChrystal or Chris Fussell for your group to discuss the material and how they can apply these insights to leadership challenges in their own operating environments.

Leading Through the COVID-19 Crisis & Beyond. The COVID-19 crisis required leaders to energize, focus, and equip their teams with practical and actionable guidance on how to lead through crisis. Partner with McChrystal Group subject matter experts to leverage a tailored multi-session experience that will provide advice from McChrystal Group leaders with experience in crisis management, the opportunity to reinforce your organizations cultural values, and help for your leaders to navigate their “new normal.”

  • Session 1: Leading in Crisis - General (ret.) Stan McChrystal reflects on practical leadership tactics in crisis from his experience commanding the US Counter-terrorist forces while facing a failing fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq.
  • Session 2: Bridging the Organization - How to identify communication gaps and create effective channels and forums.
  • Session 3: Motivating Remote/Hybrid Teams - How to energize and motivate remote or hybrid teams by utilizing a strategic combination of language, story-telling, and consistent leadership behaviors.
  • Session 4: Develop a Prioritized Plan - How to identify and prioritize critical objectives and activities, coordinate with agencies involved, and build robust contingency plans.
  • Session 5: Pressure-Testing the Plan - How to test the critical assumptions inherent in any plan. This is an essential step before empowering individuals to execute.
  • Session 6: Leadership for a New World - General (ret.) Stan McChrystal reflects on the requirement for new disciplined processes, an in-depth understanding of how your organization actually functions, and a different approach to leadership as we lose the human dynamics of in-office collaboration.

The Changing Geopolitical Landscape. Few people have as much insight on the current state of national and global affairs as General McChrystal. In this insightful presentation, he examines today’s most pressing questions regarding the dynamic geopolitical environment. He investigates and analyzes the trends, relationships, and forces that shape the world. He details the implications that these factors will have on the security, politics, energy, and the global population.

Moderated Conversations On Leadership Or Geopolitical Issues. For the right audiences, General McChrystal will have a conversation with a moderator or business leader that leads to custom insights and dynamic wide-ranging conversations tailored to the audience. This intimate format lends itself to McChrystal’s candid insights, responses, and stories, which draw the audience in and make them part of the dialogue. From lessons learned to observations on current events and the future, McChrystal shares perspectives gained through one of the most legendary military careers, as well as his experiences with business, teaching, and public service.

Team of Teams: Lessons in Leadership for Technology Companies. Technology companies face an unprecedented rate of change, challenging both established firms and startups alike. An organization’s ability to innovate with speed and agility dictates its success in this cutting-edge industry, where the competition for capital, talent, and the next big idea is intense. General Stanley McChrystal shares his operating solutions researched in his New York Times best-seller Team of Teams to release the full potential for technology companies of all types, enabling communication at scale, reinvigorating stagnant cultures, and ultimately institutionalizing innovation. His Team of Teams approach serves as the catalyst new firms need to effectively pivot their organization towards execution of a new strategy, a framework for high-growth companies to scale smartly, retaining the magic of small teams while growing into a more mature organization, and a roadmap for mature companies to own their futures by creating an innovative culture.

Team of Teams: Lessons in Leadership for Healthcare. Patients are living longer, funding systems are becoming more complicated, and the healthcare space is calling for greater innovation under enormous constraints. General McChrystal provides healthcare audiences with strategies to cope with exactly this type of dynamic environment. McChrystal draws on research conducted for his New York Times best-seller Team of Teams, along with examples from his time leading extremely high-performing teams in wartime, to provide a framework for healthcare companies to strengthen their organizations in the face of industry upheaval and build adaptable, interconnected networks that are capable of seamlessly collaborating and innovating to solve emergent challenges.

Team of Teams: Lessons in Leadership for Financial Services. The financial services industry has experienced particularly intense turmoil, disruption, and change over the past decade. Between regulatory changes, quickly evolving technologies, and increased public scrutiny, senior leaders face incredible churn. And the speed at which the industry moves is only intensifying. General McChrystal provides financial services audiences with strategies to cope with this environment, to connect the dots between teams, quickly pivot to face any challenge, and create a positive, lasting culture, increasing value for clients along the way. Drawing on research conducted for his New York Times best-seller Team of Teams, along with examples from his time leading extremely high-performing teams in wartime, McChrystal shares his strategic alignment process to identify new revenue opportunities, operations and communications solutions to improve cross-functional communication, and leadership development and team building to optimize performance and build an impactful culture.

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