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Leaders

Myth and Reality
Length: 17 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (197 ratings)
Regular price: $31.50
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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

What members say

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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 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing

Overall I found the book disappointing. Disorganized and its approach and thin on content and lacking the so what... no one reading this book will walk away with a better understanding of leadership or any real clear points to learn from any of the baker's dozen that were profiled.

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A Must Read

I couldn’t stop listening and now am looking for further books on the subject. This is definitely on my list of favorite books. I would be very interested in a sequel with more pairings. I look forward to listening to it a second time.

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Important Update to Plutarch's Lives<br /><br />

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.

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Leadershp then and now.

Great insight into the myths and legends of leadership, what we perceive as leadership and our true understanding of what it really is.

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Superb book!

As a student of leadership, this book was exceptional at presenting important leaders in history and their context versus prescribing a leadership style and a one size fits all which is typical. I highly recommend the book!

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great book

Its very good and certainly changes my perception of leadership. with that said it is very long and took a great deal of time to get through. Regardless, highly recommended.

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Awesome perspective of leadership

I think McChrystal nailed the leadership perspective. This is a great book, full of excellent comparisons. quite the eye opener for me. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in leadership!

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good historical perspective on leadership.

best chapters were the last 2 or 3. the summary on leadership was excellent. thanks.