Leadership & Listening: Challenges, Impact and Leaving an Unexpected Legacy with Parker Frawley

Are the leadership and listening skills needed in life or death situations that different than those needed for organizational agility and success? And what about leaving your legacy and having an impact beyond your immediate environment, often not really knowing the ripple effect our actions of created.

Parker Frawley is a 24+ year combat veteran and decorated officer in the United States Army. During his career, he has led soldiers in combat situations, flown Apache helicopters, and has been a strategic advisor for very senior leaders in very challenging situations. He is currently an instructor at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Director of National Security Studies, where he is responsible for developing strategic leaders across the military branches

Parker has led formations anywhere from 40 soldiers up to his last command position where he commanded a battalion task force in Afghanistan of about 870 soldiers and 62 aircraft. Along this leadership journey, he has also served in senior leadership positions in organizations up to around 4,000 soldiers. He has extensive experience in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as foreign postings in Korea, Russia, Germany, and Belgium.

In this podcast, he shares challenging stories showing the interplay of leaders taking time to listen to themselves, the people & teams around them, as well as the priorities of the organization. And how this can influence your legacy without you realizing your impact on others.

He also shares stories focusing on managing up, dealing with setbacks even later in your career, and key characteristics that can help lead with agility. He also talks about what you can do to help your leadership reputation as well as help the organization prioritizes what it needs for success. At the end of the podcast, Parker shares his personal three mantras he has to help him focus on organizational success.

Parker has great tips for both junior and senior leaders, so get ready to take notes. 

Also, listen to Raquel and Parker’s story of how listening has forged their friendship since childhood.

“(Leadership) required me to be listening about 70% of the time and talking or making noises come out of my mouth about 30%…If it’s not critical, if it’s not life or death, if it’s not mission failure or success at that moment, I’m probably going to give them a couple more tools that they can put in their kit bag that can help them to solve that challenge on their own.” 

– Parker Frawley


02:13 – Sharing challenges in listening and leadership both in the military and in the corporate setup

04:00 – How listening impacts leaders’ interface with both their subordinates as well as with their superiors. 

06:14 -What are the qualities of agile leaders

08:18 –  How to become intellectually curious as leaders

13:27 –  One way of thinking amidst a diverse background

16:27 –  Diversity in thought

20:23 –  What is “mission command” and what does it try to accomplish

22:30 –  Parker’s post as battalion commander is a huge learning curve for him in ways that people may not consider.

28:05 –  Raquel’s question ‘Did something shift in Parker’s approach as a leader?’

28:22 –  How to choose your battles and how to manage up

34:33 –  How Parker manages to overcome challenges especially on conflicting ideas with those higher in the organizational structure.

53:27 –  Why leaders taking full responsibility for mistakes prevents waste of others time in the future

56:22 –  How much time does Parker spend listening versus speaking as a leader

58:33 –  Parker’s personal three mantras, focused on organizational success.

01:02:05 –  The Island Girl and the Military guy, Parker describing his long and successful friendship with Raquel. How they kept the friendship strong despite being two completely being different people

01:04:45- Diversity of our experience also helps us to be more open to other people’s perspectives. 

Key Takeaways

“When I was more junior, perhaps and less mature in the job, I did not see the similarities in leadership in the civilian world and military world. And these days, I see that much more often, I see a lot of things that intersect.” – Parker Frawley

“It requires a competent team to help those leaders navigate through these very difficult waters, and this environment and the speed of change.”- Parker Frawley

“Intellectual curiosity – it’s about people who want to know things simply to know things.”- Parker Frawley

“The military is a very strictly hierarchical organization. And so the requirement is that as a leader, you’re not simply listening to people, but you’re actually hearing what they’re saying..”- Parker Frawley

Connect with Parker Frawley

Connect with Raquel Ark

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