Monday, June 28, 2010

Leadership is hard work

General McChrystal has been fired. I have to admit that I was stunned to read his remarks in Rolling Stone - they reflect very poorly on his leadership; which is a shame, given his remarkable performance in the past.

As a staff officer, I often commiserated with my peers and with my subordinates about our higher-ups - we often used the phrase Echelons Above Reality to refer to our higher-ups, which was a play on the phrase EAC  (Echelons above Corps) .  And we often had much harsher phrases for individuals that were in staff and sometimes command positions above us. I've seen that kind of behavior in commerce, government and the military so I think it's fairly common.

As a commander, however, the situation was much different . Everything you do, everything you say, everything you write, and all the body language you send out is scrutinized, evaluated, assessed, and probed. It's the nature of the job. As a consequence, I was extremely careful about what I said, when I said it, how I said it, to whom I said it, and the body language I presented. And I'm not a 4-star general.

So, was General McChrystal being immature? Was he somehow caught off-guard?

Or, did he do as I did: prepare ahead of time for every encounter and go into every encounter with a plan to achieve a specific outcome?

My thinking is the later - he knew what he was doing and very specifically chose to do what he did.

What I can't figure out is why? What was he planning on achieving?

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