1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $31.50

Buy for $31.50

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

An instant national best seller!

Stanley McChrystal, the retired US Army general and best-selling author of Team of Teams, profiles 13 of history's great leaders, including Walt Disney, Coco Chanel, and Robert E. Lee, to show that leadership is not what you think it is - and never was.

Stan McChrystal served for 34 years in the US Army, rising from a second lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division to a four-star general, in command of all American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. During those years he worked with countless leaders and pondered an ancient question: "What makes a leader great?" He came to realize that there is no simple answer. 

McChrystal profiles 13 famous leaders from a wide range of eras and fields - from corporate CEOs to politicians and revolutionaries. He uses their stories to explore how leadership works in practice and to challenge the myths that complicate our thinking about this critical topic. With Plutarch's Lives as his model, McChrystal looks at paired sets of leaders who followed unconventional paths to success. For instance...

  • Walt Disney and Coco Chanel built empires in very different ways. Both had public personas that sharply contrasted with how they lived in private. 
  • Maximilien Robespierre helped shape the French Revolution in the 18th century; Abu Musab al-Zarqawi led the jihadist insurgency in Iraq in the 21st. We can draw surprising lessons from them about motivation and persuasion. 
  • Both Boss Tweed in 19th-century New York and Margaret Thatcher in 20th-century Britain followed unlikely roads to the top of powerful institutions. 
  • Martin Luther and his future namesake, Martin Luther King Jr., both local clergymen, emerged from modest backgrounds to lead world-changing movements. 

Finally, McChrystal explores how his former hero, General Robert E. Lee, could seemingly do everything right in his military career and yet lead the Confederate Army to a devastating defeat in the service of an immoral cause. Leaders will help you take stock of your own leadership, whether you’re part of a small team or responsible for an entire nation.

©2018 Stanley McChrystal, Jeff Eggers, and Jay Mangone (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Whenever Stanley McChrystal talks, I take notes. I am so drawn to his ability to cut through pop culture theories about leadership to get to the core of what actually makes a leader. Leaders takes us deeper than most other leadership books into the true and often messy mechanics of leadership. Anyone who considers themselves a student of leadership must read this book." (Simon Sinek, optimist and author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last)

"Leaders reexamines old notions of leadership - especially the outdated view that history is shaped by great men going it alone. General McChrystal shows us that leadership can take many forms, leaders often have different strengths, and great leaders can come from anywhere. (Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org and OptionB.Org)

"Leaders is a superb, thought-provoking challenge to conventional understanding of the nature of leadership. An enlightening, entertaining must-read about why we revere so many leaders who are often deeply flawed and even unsuccessful, and the lessons for thinking about and teaching leadership in the future.” (Robert M. Gates, former US Secretary of Defense) 

What listeners say about Leaders

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    438
  • 4 Stars
    177
  • 3 Stars
    68
  • 2 Stars
    22
  • 1 Stars
    12
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    412
  • 4 Stars
    161
  • 3 Stars
    49
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    7
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    386
  • 4 Stars
    154
  • 3 Stars
    59
  • 2 Stars
    22
  • 1 Stars
    14

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

McChrystal should be embarrassed

I don’t usually leave full reviews but McChrystal should be embarrassed to have served this country given his opinion of great leaders of our past. Book should be titled “A liberals opinion of our military leaders”

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Does not live up to the hype...

I was a bit amazed at this book. The marketing for it was excellent. Videos of McChyrstal talking about new ways to look at leadership. The introduction was great, using big ideas from systems and systems thinking. But then the book started.

A series of thin historical essays. Not uninteresting and reasonably well written. But if you know anything of the subject you'll learn little new. Oddly there is very little identification of 'leadership' in the text of the stories. What learning there is comes at the end in summary chapters.
The selection of the subjects is interesting. But the treatment is banal. Others have commented that they were at the High School level. I'll go with that.

What I thought might happen is at least a summary of leadership principles derived from each of the stories. Not so much. In the end you are left with a collection of stories concerning some leaders that do not integrate at all. There is no capitulation of the lessons, or even of the points. Maybe it is in the last chapter?. I gave up around Boss Tweed.

The book fails to live up to its own intentions. It does not lead. it does not meaningfully instruct.

Returned.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • BL
  • 11-03-18

A meaningless effort

I'm a retired senior military officer and the CEO of an oilfield services company. After about 5 hours of listening to this pseudo intellectual gibberish, I fail to see the point.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great resource for CGSC

I’ve never liked history. I mean never, but this book weaves in historical references masterfully to teach new lessons about leadership. It forces you to look at Leadership in a new way. If you’re a person who doesn’t get excited about seeing famous people and you believe in the team mentality from top to bottom, you will appreciate this book.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Panoramic (& FUN) view of the topic and history

—Enlightened my understanding of leadership AND history with examples of leaders of which I knew nothing or very little. Actually FUN reading (listening) because of all the detailed stories and the amazing correlations he discerned between past and present.
—Uplifted me to know what an inspiring mentor General McChrystal must have been to our troops when he served in the Army.
—Narrator, Paul Mitchell, hit exactly the right tone with the perfect camber of his voice.
—I will recommend to my bookclub.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

disappointed

curious how they determined who to examine?? what was the criteria??
didn't like: points deducted for into, the jumping around was confusing as all, how they hooked you to the people they discussed but the way they organized the book/what they decided to talk about just confused all the information they gave you, no clear thread through-out the entire book that left you with takeaways.
liked: intro and the epilogue was probably the most powerful part of the book for me and yet they could not duplicate that power throughout the rest of the book.
disappointed.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Leadership is a Journey

I loved it. The book provided great examples of Leadership... Highly Recommend reading for Growth...

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Important Update to Plutarch's Lives

Terrific work with meaningful analysis of contrasting leaders for each chapter. The contributions by these three authors to the compendia of literature on the subject of leadership is important. This work provides a wide range of updated historical figures where the relevant information regarding their particular social and personal circumstances is available to be plumbed.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Didn’t make his Bed that Morning!!

The general clearly did not make his bed the morning he wrote this book. It was very weak gave zero examples of leadership and was basically a series of high school level biographies of the individuals profiled. I can’t use leaders profiles because no examples of leadership were described.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A really great book

A perfectly written book that I found to be developmental and maturative for a young man coming of age such as myself and I found such great relation to the author. I found this book to be intonationally and inflectionally perfect! And I further highly recommend this book.

.