Leadership in Difficult Times

I invite you to read and then digest and talk about the following article by Stanley McChrystal and Chris Fussell. McChrystal is a former Army general and the founder of the McChrystal Group. Fussell is a former Navy Seal and the president of the McChrystal Group.

As two former military leaders, they describe a new type of leadership for the difficult times in which we are currently experiencing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here’s four important points from their experience and what they wrote in their op-ed today in the New York Times:

First, don’t hunker down. At the height of the Royal Navy’s dominance, British naval officers, impressive in ornate uniforms, were expected to stand erect on the ship’s decks during battles, clearly exposed to enemy fire. It was not that little value was placed on their lives. Rather, ever greater value was placed on their leadership. Their job was to be visible to their sailors, and show calm amid the chaos. Today’s leaders must also stand and be visible to their organizations, their communities, and their families.

Second, demonstrate candor — and demand it from the leaders below you. In combat, when things look bad, the front line troops always know it before the leadership. Denying reality makes your people assume you’re either lying or out of touch. Organizations can handle bad news and tough times if they feel their leaders are focused on solving the issues at hand. Today’s leaders must be honest with their people to a level that will and should feel uncomfortable.

Third, give up more authority than feels natural. Fighting through complexity requires quick and informed action at the edge. This is dependent upon fast, transparent and inclusive communication. Organizations will need teammates making independent decisions close to the point of action, not waiting for direction. It’s tempting in times of crisis to grab the reins and yank back, but this will be more disruptive than it is helpful. Be connected, listen and adapt based on what your front line is telling you.

Finally, be more compassionate than you think you need to be. As your organization disperses to remote-work status, the loss of personal interactions will quickly sink in. It will be easy for leaders to overlook or undervalue the fear and stress their people are feeling because of this isolation. All of us learn by watching our teammates, and gain confidence through informal feedback from our colleagues or bosses. Your organization has lost that person-to-person contact. You must immediately take your culture online, and learn to reinforce camaraderie, esteem, and compassion, via digital platforms…”

Read the full article HERE.