↔  ⇲ Leaders: Myth and Reality to read ← PDF Author Stanley McChrystal ❩ ↔ ⇲ Leaders: Myth and Reality to read ← PDF Author Stanley McChrystal ❩ OneThe MythologyThings are not always as they seem the first appearance deceives many. phaedrus, roman poet, ca 15 bce 50 ceIn 49 BCE, with the dramatic proclamation The die is cast, Julius Caesar made the fateful decision to cross the Rubicon River at the head of his 13th Legion The crossing of the Rubicon was momentous because the river demarcated the boundary between Italy and the province of Gaul to the north, where Caesar was serving as governor Suspicious of his growing power, the Senate had ordered him to disband his army and return to Rome But Caesar, defying the Senate, decided to return not in submission but in rebellion, marching on Rome with his legion By crossing into Italian territory with an army, Caesar had irrevocably made himself a traitor.For all it s, Caesar s river crossing was a relatively modest affair in which the future ruler and his legionnaires merely waded across a shin deep stream Nonetheless, this act put him in irreconcilable opposition to Rome s Senate, making the expression crossing the Rubicon forever synonymous with passing a point of no return.The story about how Caesar and his legion marched on Rome survived on the parchment of the Lives, a series of profiles of famous men recorded by the Greek biographer Plutarch Plutarch also recorded that the Senate five years later in the hope that the government of a single person would give them time to breathe after so many civil wars and calamities, made Caesar dictator for life And yet within two months he was assassinated, the knives wielded by many of those same senators As Plutarch explains, Caesar s pretension and the extravagance of his new title had motivated the group, including Caesar s close friend Marcus Junius Brutus, to conspire against him.Today, those of us who know Julius Caesar s story most likely learned it not from reading Plutarch, but from Shakespeare s Julius Caesar In the bard s telling of the assassination, Caesar struggles until he sees Brutus among the attackers and realizes the depth of his betrayal Famously, his dying utterance is the poignant Et tu, Brute Then fall, Caesar Almost two millennia later, another General would become famous by crossing a river Unlike the modest Rubicon, the Delaware could not be crossed by wading, so George Washington had no choice but to cross by boat, a scene memorialized in Washington Crossing the Delaware, one of Americas most recognizable paintings On a canvas measuring over twenty one feet wide, Emanuel Leutze captured the daring of Americas founding father and first president.The parallels between Caesar and Washington go beyond the rivers they crossed as generals Just as Caesar s final phase of leadership was reenacted by Shakespeare through the rhythm of iambic pentameter, the final act of Washington s leadership was depicted by the playwright Lin Manuel Miranda, who four centuries later chose hip hop as the rhythm to dramatize Washington s retirement in his theatrical story of Alexander Hamilton And where Shakespeare had turned to Plutarch s Lives, Miranda found his inspiration within the pages of Ron Chernow s biography Alexander Hamilton.The musical closes with the rap song One Last Time, in which George Washington s 1796 decision to step down after his second term is met by a disbelieving Hamilton Hamilton Why do you have to say goodbye Washington If I say goodbye, the nation learns to move on.It outlives me when I m gone.Miranda said later that he sought to celebrate Washington s humanity and frailty, lifting up the rare example of a leader who voluntarily relinquishes power In the playwright s drama, Washington selflessly prioritizes the fledgling nation s democracy over the pursuit of power, consistent with the founding father s legacy of leadership.For would be leaders, the oft told stories of audacious river crossings and of the dramatic finales of Julius Caesar and George Washington are both inspiring and intimidating The stories would be helpful, though, if leadership actually worked the way the legends imply In fact, for both Caesar and Washington, leadership was hardly so simple.History codified Caesar s The die is cast as a declaration of courage and decisiveness, but the proclamation also marked a moment of profound doubt Plutarch tells us, but popular history forgets, that Caesar ordered a halt when he approached the river, and that he wavered much in his mind and often changed his opinion one way and the other Before pressing on, he sought counsel when his purposes fluctuated most And yet halting, wavering, and fluctuating are not how we tend to view leaders, nor how leaders seek to be remembered Truly effective leaders, we like to believe, are not susceptible to the fog of doubt they act decisively and face the consequences But few real leaders have actually operated this way.So, too, Caesar s dying words, Et tu, Brute were likely dramatic license taken by Shakespeare and other Elizabethan playwrights Plutarch s version of the assassination itself was the stuff of a very different drama.When he is first attacked, rather than make an exclamation that might endear him to history, Caesar, naturally, grabbed the offending dagger and tried to stop himself from being stabbed Instead of calling to Brutus, he exclaims, Vile Casca, what does this mean The rest of the struggle is an awkward affair, the great Caesar writhing to avoid the blows of his attackers, who in their own bungling efforts end up stabbing one another Some say that he fought and resisted all the rest, shifting his body to avoid the blows, and calling out for help, but that when he saw Brutus s sword drawn, he covered his face with his robe and submitted And the conspirators themselves were many of them wounded by each other, whilst they all levelled their blows at the same person Where Shakespeare s play focuses on the tension and conflict between two of his play s main characters, Plutarch s account zeroes in on Caesar s behavior in the course of dying a violent death.In truth, neither Plutarch nor Shakespeare knew exactly what happened, and neither do we We have no choice but to interpret events through the words they ve given us Both the biographer and the playwright do their best to capture the complexity in their own way Alas, what we remember selectively is that Caesar crossed the Rubicon boldly and then died while uttering the three famous words that he probably never said.Looking at the biographers and playwrights versions of history side by side, we see that Caesars leadership was not as heroic as its often remembered So too was the case with Washington.Inside the West Wing lobby of the White House hangs a reproduction of Leutze s Washington Crossing the Delaware The painting is a favorite stop for White House staffers giving tours to guests, who are entertained with a catalog of the painting s historical flaws the Delaware River never froze in this way, the river is far too wide, the boat is heading the wrong way, the flag is wrong for the period, and so on But the most interesting factual flaw is the boat itself Rather than the rickety whaling rowboat depicted by Leutze, Washington is believed to have used a sixty foot flat bottom barge complete with artillery, a far better option for an army conducting a winter s night river crossing.In 2011, a radically different depiction of the crossing was unveiled at the New York Historical Society, complete with the flat bottom barge Artist Mort Knstler had been commissioned by a Mr Thomas R Suozzi, who told him, I want to go up against the existing painting The other painting is great, but it doesn t tell the realistic story Aside from the boat, the most striking difference between the Leutze and Knstler versions is Washington himself In the original, the General is fully upright in the tiny boat, seemingly lunging forward, his center of gravity elevated and perched over a miniature iceberg In the remake, he s still standing, but he s carefully balanced, his right hand holding a firm grip on a nearby cannon to steady himself.Knstler s work corrected inaccuracies of history, while also fixing a critical flaw in how we often depict the practice of leadership It is, of course, human nature to steady oneself in a boat at night, for human balance is imperfect Few real leaders, even military generals, present themselves riskily in a rowboat, refusing support, as if posing for posterity And yet observers rarely see the depiction of Washington towering above a small boat in a freezing body of water at night as peculiar Instead, we often accept such absurdly displayed feats of heroic leadership as normal.Miranda s depiction of Washington as the American founder too selfless to accept a crown was similarly skewed, and there was to the idealized story As Chernow explains, by the time of his resignation, Washington was suffering from an aching back, bad dentures, and rheumatism visitors noted his haggard, careworn look America s founding father was, after all, still human Washington was certainly motivated by the principle of civic rule but he was also physically and mentally tired.A quick scan of these various accounts of two leaders tells us as much about methods of storytelling as about the leaders themselves Biographers typically tell the stories of individual leaders, emphasizing the significance of their decision making Unsurprisingly, leaders who draw most of their leadership ideas from biographies learn to adjust their own narrative frames to keep themselves at the center The stories they tell themselves and others are misleading in a way that we humans crave in a complex world biography simplifies the complexity of collective human systems down to manageable individual elements.The playwright often has a different perspective, focusing on the relationships among individuals, particularly when those relationships contain conflict or comedy While the biographer helps the reader to know the attributes of the leader, the playwright gets the theatergoer to experience the drama of relationships enveloping that leader.In truth, we crave both the biographer and the playwright As individuals we appreciate the biographer s focus on the actors, and as social animals we enjoy the playwright s dramatic depiction of their relationships Yet both storytellers have contributed to the mythology of leadership Where the biographer fuels our leader centrism, the playwright or the painter enables leader romanticism Between the two effects, we devise narratives that obscure the role of followers and wrongly attribute complex outcomes to mere individuals Caesar s strength both defined and ended his empire, and Washington won the Revolutionary War and founded the United States.In reality, the lessons of leadership are not the ones we most naturally derive from the legends The Rubicon reminds us that real leaders experience doubt and consult with others Similarly, the lesson of the Delaware is not that good leaders are blas in taking on unnecessary risk A real leader might not utter a pithy line upon being stabbed he might just quietly die of internal bleeding When a real leader relinquishes power, he might be upholding the principles of democracy, or he might also simply be fatigued.Leadership is a famously difficult term to define As The Bass Handbook of Leadership observes, often, a two day meeting to discuss leadership has started with a day of argument over the definition Bass also notes that leadership expert Joseph Rost found 221 definitions of leadership in 587 examined publications.Of course, few leaders are so concerned with quibbling over definitions In our experience, most people think of leadership as the process of influencing a group toward some defined outcome This definition suggests that leadership is the process of one person herding the group toward goals, and that leaders at the top craft and direct those endpoints Perhaps worse, our quest to understand leadership has followed a consistent but always insufficient pattern we ve studied individual leaders and come to think of leadership as simply what leaders do.Here lies the root cause of the mythology of leadership its relentless focus on the leader For years, human beings have searched for the secret of leadership by studying why certain leaders achieve enviable results where others do not To the detriment of the study of leadership, rarely do we look to the individuals around the senior leader We assume the leader controls the process, undervaluing the role of followers and situational context Moreover, we pretend that leadership is goals driven, and that good outcomes can be gained through the correct formula of effective leadership We wrongly believe that what happened in one leadership instance can be replicated in another.This common understanding of leadership, when held up against the reality of how leadership actually works, reveals three myths, which we ll discuss in detail in the book s final two chapters The Formulaic Myth In our attempt to understand process, we strive to tame leadership into a static checklist, ignoring the reality that leadership is intensely contextual, and always dependent upon particular circumstances.The Attribution Myth We attribute too much to leaders, having a biased form of tunnel vision focused on leaders themselves, and neglecting the agency of the group that surrounds them We re led to believe that leadership is what the leader does, but in reality, outcomes are attributable to far than the individual leader.The Results Myth We say that leadership is the process of driving groups of people toward outcomes That s true, to a point, but it s much broader than that In reality, leadership describes what leaders symbolize than what they achieve Productive leadership requires that followers find a sense of purpose and meaning in what their leaders represent, such as social identity or some future opportunity.The power and prevalence of this mythology of leadership rival those of religion or romance these myths seem universal and inseparable from our existence as humans They reflect a disconnect between how things should be and how we find them in practice and yet we knowingly live with this disconnect For instance, corporate executives often speak of the importance of leadership, but when they re asked to list the threats to their business, they generally list exogenous factors, rarely listing their own leadership as a risk factor.In part, we live with this mythology because it serves a useful function As with religion, leadership offers value by crafting a narrative that helps make sense of the world around us, even when it eludes our comprehension Leadership provides a framework for assigning causality when things go well, and equally a way to assign blame when things go otherwise And as with romance, leadership holds our attention and captures our imagination, stirring feelings that we don t always understand.Despite this utility, the mythology often leads us astray with adverse consequences and risks to society When we buy into the mythology, our leadership models are made less effective, and we construct elaborate processes to select, assess, and train leaders who perpetuate existing weaknesses And dangerously, we create and sustain false expectations about leaders In some cases, savvy leaders exploit the mythology, enriching themselves while corroding the prosperity of the organizations they lead In others, the mythology becomes exposed, leading to disappointment and cynicism about leadership.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 Stan McChrystal has studied leadership his whole adult life, from his first day at West Point to his most recent work with the corporate clients of the McChrystal Group In this follow up to his bestsellers My Share of the Task and 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 is 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 Civil War Yet Lee ultimately 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.He 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 Zarkawi 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. Lead by Example Ways Great Leaders Inspire Results Lead John Baldoni on FREE shipping qualifying offers Leadershipnow The Best Leadership Books of Taking over the top job, whether it s CEO a company or manager department American History Facts and Myth Things People TIME TIME asked historians which myths errors about American history bother them most what people should know really happened Busting health safety myths HSE pulls together its responses to some through rebuttals in media, cases examined Busters Challenge Panel tweets from makinggreatleaders Development I THINK AM RIGHT A simple experiment uncovers this challenge every time Set an almost impossible problem scenario then set your leaders up fail To The Most Important Employees Need From Their Sep , Last week wrote how make leadership workplace fun again inspired me ask group high potential employees they wanted their Myths Online Exclusives Archive MYTH Palestinian Authority held free, democratic election FACT Elections are not synonymous with democracy Several Arab countries hold elections, including Egypt Syria, but have only one candidate, there is no doubt outcomeThe dictators always reelected nearly percent vote Myth Britannica Myth, symbolic narrative, usually unknown origin at least partly traditional, that ostensibly relates actual events especially associated religious belief It distinguished behaviour cult, ritual places objects temples, icons Myths Aeneas Encyclopedia mythology, Greek, god, story hero Aeneas appears both Greek Roman mythology He was defender Troy, city Asia Minor Greeks destroyed Trojan War Global payroll survey April EY United States Global myth reality What current title, country currently headquartered Ernst Young participants were chosen for ability offer insight Theseus Minotaur Ancient Greece Theseus According legend, king Minos ruled Athens forced Athenians deliver seven youths maidens nine years Good World Two Two By Mark Weber II greatest military conflict history, also America important twentieth century war the Black Irish dark fiber idea study struck six ago after first mention as told variant four question origin, meaning, purpose has haunted ever since, primarily due my own heritage mother family Tech Enduring Man MIT Technology Review particular individuals drive long been discredited Yet persists tech industry, obscuring fundamental factors innovation Lost Cause Confederacy Wikipedia Lost Confederacy, simply Cause, ideological movement describes Confederate cause heroic against great odds despite defeat ideology endorses supposed virtues antebellum South, viewing Civil honorable struggle Southern way life while minimizing denying central role slavery Publication date Paper presented Annual Meeting Society Industrial Organizational Psychology, New Orleans, LA,Stanley McChrystal Stanley Allen born August retired States Army general best known his command Joint Special Operations Command JSOC mid His last assignment General Biography former commander Iraq during Persian Gulf Wars Learn Biography Listen, learn lead TED Talk Four star shares he learned decades How can you build sense shared among many ages skill sets listening learning General Story Michael Hastings Inspired Music, Film, TV Political News Coverage McChrystal, US who served NATO forces Afghanistan family, father attained rank major post occupation Germany younger attended Team Teams Rules Engagement a Team Complex Tantum Collins, David Silverman, Chris Fussell if could combine agility, adaptability, cohesion small team power resources giant organization THE OLD RULES NO LONGER APPLY b When Kindle edition Download once read device, PC, phones tablets Use features like bookmarks, note taking highlighting reading Welcome Group Group elite advisory services development firm Our networked approach makes adaptable misconception Navy SEALs undeniably remarkable, different reason, says Gen book Teams, co written Talk Subtitles Transcript addressing possibility failure Leaders: Myth and Reality

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