Summer reading material usually consists of lighter subjects such as popular novels. However, many business leaders are taking a book with a little more substance to the beach with them this year. One of the hottest selling business books is Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, authored by General Stanley McChrystal along with two former Navy Seals and former student of McChrystal’s leadership class at Yale.
As one of the innovators of the roofing industry and building trades, Dale Tyler, president of National Roofing Partners, leads a large team with wildly disparate skill sets, education and family backgrounds. As such, his views of the management tactics served up in “Team or Teams” is likely to be of interest to other businesses leaders. As did General McChrystal, he has many boots on the ground.
War as a Metaphor for Business
Using the tactics of war as a metaphor for succeeding in business, politics or life is an ancient concept. Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” was written more than 2000 years ago and is still required reading for many students of business. However, many contemporary business leaders feel General McChrystal and his co-writers have uncovered some valuable, new lessons for succeeding in the highly-interconnected world of business in 2015.
The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, considered by many as one of the brightest management minds around today, wrote a glowing review of this book for The Wall Street Journal. “Team of Teams shows how civilian organizations, from hospitals to corporations can benefit from General McChrystal’s recommendations” he noted in the review.
Schultz continued. “How, for instance, should leaders of today adapt their thinking for our information-rich, densely interconnected world? Any executive with a smartphone knows that mobile devices, digital technology and social networks have shifted power from the few to the many. Today, 140 characters tweeted from someone’s living room can ignite a revolution, eviscerate a stranger’s reputation or hijack a company’s well-intended message.”
How NRP is Using These Tactics
After reading this book, Dale Tyler was asked to give his opinions on some of the salient points of “Team of Teams.”
The general noted that in 2004, Al Qaeda was succeeding, not because they were well-trained or brilliant tacticians. Their nonhierarchical structure allowed them to wage war differently from the old enemies of the US. The basic premise of the book was that the leadership of the US forces changed from a traditional “command-and-control” setup to a “distributed collaboration operation.”
Can this approach help today’s business leaders succeed?
“NRP’s senior management believes in the empowerment of each and every NRP staff member,” noted Tyler.” Everyone in our company is given latitude and authority to make decisions they feel are in the company’s best interest.”
“No one is afraid to make a mistake,” he said. “Everyone is expected to have the company’s best interest at heart.”
How does NRP deal with what McChrystal calls the “informational-rich, densely interconnected world?”
“We are making every effort to be an industry leader in industry specific technology and connecting with our customers and partners via all available media outlets,” he said. “This blog and our aggressive effort with social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook are just three examples of our commitment to growing our brand and message among all of our stakeholders – customers, vendors, employees and diversity leaders.”
General McChrystal learned to shift his focus from top-down command to sharing power with his own people. He suggests this is important for business to do with their staff and customers
Mr. Tyler stated, “Much has been written about surrounding yourself with “like minded” individuals! Surrounding yourself with other leaders, each of whom could essentially take the leadership position or make a similar decision in the absence of the President or CEO is something we strive for,” he said.
“I travel extensively. In my absence I know that each and every leader here will make decisions that are consistent with mine.”
One of the fascinating aspects of “Team of Teams” is General McChrystal’s (who is a life-long military man) contention that a leader must transition from an “all knowing puppet master” to “an empathetic crafter of culture.”
“This is exactly the reasoning here at NRP,” he notes. “We have invested heavily in building a culture! Investment in people, our number one expense, only makes sense.”
“NRP was voted the #2 Best Place to work in Dallas Ft Worth by its employees. I believe this is due to our emphasis on a work / life balance and respect for our culture.”
Would you enjoy getting a copy of “Team of Teams?” For the first 10 people who share this post on their LinkedIn or Facebook pages, and share this with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, NRP will send you a free copy of the book. That way, when you head for that vacation, you’ll have something interesting to read.
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