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Books: A Common Leadership Mission

By Andy Smith, CMA, CPA/ABV, CVA, ASA
April 1, 2018
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Although Team of Teams is written by Stanley McChrystal, one of the most highly regarded generals of our time, it isn’t a war story. But it reads like an action adventure novel. The reader is instantly swept away with the passion and anxiety of the complicated and complex problems faced by our nation’s best soldiers as they face off against Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

 

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The book details the transformation and the new strategies that allowed them to find success. From a business perspective, the key takeaways from the book include:

 

Sharing. One of the key themes is stronger communication. But the lesson isn’t just about better communication—it’s about truly breaking down any silos that exist and being as inclusive as possible. More people with more knowledge will get more solutions and find more success. These challenges apply in large and small organizations. Even in my firm, the more communication between our mergers and acquisitions team and our business valuation team, the better we are and the better we serve our clients.

 

Common Mission. Every business manager knows that everyone must be rowing in the same direction and have a common mission, but how many of our team members can recite the business’s mission, and how many have the same 30-second elevator speech? What if our work teams understood the mission and had the passion that our special forces’ teams have? Our business teams can be so much stronger. A true shared consciousness between trusting and loyal teammates must be achieved. These are key ingredients for our businesses to successfully collaborate, innovate, and compete.

 

Trust and True Empowerment. Of course every business leader is told not to micromanage and to delegate more, but the book focuses on their “eyes on, hands off” leadership style, which definitely has improved the way I manage and lead our business. An organization can’t grow and scale without leaders who can effectively empower people, fully trust them to make the right decisions, and of course are accountable for their decisions. The book’s leadership analogy is a gardener who is focused on enabling an ecosystem: pruning and watering where and when needed.

 

This book isn’t debating how we got into the Iraq war or what went wrong since we left. This book is an opportunity to focus on the military’s biggest challenge (fighting an amorphous new enemy in a dynamic urban environment) and ultimately its biggest success (defeating Al-Qaeda in Iraq). The lessons learned apply for the ages. From military strategy to business strategy, we often face a battlefield with common attributes: the requirement to share information faster and more efficiently, to work more effectively with different groups, to properly assess a changing competitive landscape, and to avoid being handicapped by training for our previous challenges.

 

The role of the executive leader is drastically changing; new skill sets, organization structures, and cultures are necessary to win, no matter what your battlefield may be.

 

Andy Smith, CMA, CPA/ABV, CVA, ASA, is a principal and senior managing director with The McLean Group, a mergers & acquisitions and business valuation firm. You can reach him at asmith@mcleanllc.com.
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