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Two-Minute Take: General McChrystal on Veteran Leadership

General McChrystal was a keynote speaker during week one of the Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, where he talked to scholars about the myths and realities of leadership.

Article by Brittney Bain June 7, 2018

General Stanley McChrystal is the former commander of the U.S. and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Afghanistan, and the former commander of the nation’s military counter-terrorism force Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He is best known for developing and implementing a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. He retired from the Army in August 2010 and later founded McChrystal Group to deliver innovative leadership solutions to American businesses.

He was a keynote speaker during week one of the Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, where he talked to scholars about the myths and realities of leadership. He also offered his thoughts on why the Stand-To program is crucial right now.

Why is veteran leadership important to the country?

I think veteran leadership is important because first, they are a part of society that’s had a somewhat unique experience. They’ve gone out and served the nation, and many people do, but they’ve served it in uniform. They’ve also been around the world, and that brings back different perspectives. So I think veterans entering into all frames of leadership – political, business, and society leadership – fills out the palette that our country has to have.  

What makes the Bush Institute's Stand-To Vet Leadership Program unique?

I think the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program is uniquely effective because it brings people [together] and raises their expectations of themselves. They get in a room with people who are arguably more accomplished than the person next to them…and it’s humbling, but it’s also motivating, and it makes them realize they’re not alone. That they can do this, and that they should do this. They should do not only what they can -- they should do everything they can.

I hope [the program] hits critical mass over a number of years, where what it produces is the people going through the program that year, but it also produces a latticework, or a network, of people who’ve gone through the program, connected to people who know them, and so, suddenly you start to have a weave of people that connect, and they can do more than a single person can do. [I hope] people start to identify the program and say, “we could use some help from someone who’s gone through that before,” and we can start to leverage, what I think, is a tremendous base of potential in the country. 

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