Each year the I.I.I. hosts a conference called the Property/Casualty Joint Industry Forum. This unique event assembles key figures from the business, policymaking and media spheres to explore topics of vital interest to our industry.
This year we were fortunate to have four-star General Stanley McChrystal as keynote speaker. General McChrystal was the commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and International Security Assistance Force. He shared crucial lessons on leadership which he acquired while leading the effort against Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Al Qaeda used smartphones and the internet to coordinate attacks; they were “lightning fast and constantly changing.” The elite JSOC was daunted by the terror group; “we were losing” said McChrystal. In order to beat Al Qaeda some of the old rules had to be thrown out, and radical new leadership techniques had to take root. Here are some of the lessons corporate leaders can take away:
- Violate the chain of command. Giving everyone in your organization the information you normally only give the C-suite leads to “empowered execution”. In our fast-paced world there is not always time to let everything trickle down a long chain of command.
- Give employees the freedom to use their own judgement. “Execute the order, but if the order is wrong, execute the order we should have given you.” Don’t allow “just following procedure” to be an excuse for actions that are wildly inappropriate for the situation.
- Think of the role of leader as akin to that of a gardener. A gardener does not grow plants, only plants can do that. Instead, a gardener feeds, weeds and protects the plants thereby allowing them to do what they do best. By enabling the organization you will be sure to see a positive outcome, concluded McChrystal.