Would you like to be a fly on the wall during President Obama and Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s “come to Jesus” meeting scheduled for tomorrow? I sure would. Talk about an example of leadership under pressure – on both sides!
If I could offer a few words of unsolicited advice, here’s what I’d say to them both.
To Gen. McChrystal:
You are the commanding general in this operation, the boots on the ground. Nobody knows the situation in this war better than you do. But that does not give you the green light to opine about our country’s administration and its national security team to the media first, in place of communicating concerns with your chain of command. Frustrated though you might be, this was an error in judgment. A professional knows that one does not use the press as a first resort to air grievances. A sincere apology is in order, with a commitment to different action in the future.
To President Obama:
You are the ultimate “buck holder.” If your commanding general in this war felt that he had more access to the media than to his boss, then I would ask, “Why?” What does Gen. McChrystal need to win this war that he doesn’t believe he has now? If part of it is access to you –honest, one-to-one, access to you, his commander-in-chief – then put this in place now. If this hasn’t been in place, accept the blame and responsibility and apologize to him. Then commit to more positive action in the future.
Leadership is NOT about winning while making the other guy look bad. Leadership is about LISTENING, understanding your part in the problem, accepting responsibility, and committing to positive change.
Let’s pray that both of these distinctly different and able leaders understand the same imperative.
If so, then we all win.