Summary of Listen, Learn...Then Lead

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7 Overall

7 Applicability

8 Innovation

5 Style


On September 11, 2001, the United States faced an unprecedented military challenge. Technology had disrupted warfare. In this new, unknown world, General Stanley McChrystal was responsible for coordinating troops scattered across the globe. He realized that to be a better leader in this dynamic environment, he needed the humility to listen and learn. At first blush, McChrystal’s somewhat unwieldy story seems unique to him, but his experiences offer tidbits to old-school leaders and managers who find their industry in the throes of unprecedented technological upheaval.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How General Stanley McChrystal evolved his understanding of leadership after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and
  • How to lead through change in the face of radical industry upheaval.

About the Speaker

Now retired, General Stanley McChrystal commanded US Army and international troops in Afghanistan.



On a Tuesday morning in 2001, General Stanley McChrystal led a routine parachuting exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Such drills follow strict safety protocol. The jumpmaster checks and tightens each soldier’s harness and issues commands on board the aircraft. At jump time, soldiers stand up and hook their harnesses onto a static line. At that point, there’s no retreat. Soldiers wait in line until it’s their turn to fall out of the plane, open their parachutes, descend to Earth and hit the ground. After a typical jump, the general would look around and see that the squad of paratroopers was proceeding as instructed. The soldiers had been trained to follow their leaders into combat, and if they made it back out, it would be because their leaders led them out.

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