Jocko Willink is a retired US Navy SEAL officer who currently hosts the top-rated Jocko Podcast. Jocko is the cofounder of Echelon Front, where he serves as chief executive officer, leadership instructor, speaker and strategic advisor.
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Leif Babin is a former US Navy SEAL officer and a cofounder of Echelon Front. Here, he serves as president/chief operating officer, leadership instructor, speaker and strategic advisor. A graduate of the US Naval Academy, Leif served thirteen years in the Navy, including nine in the SEAL Teams.
Extreme Ownership teaches readers the lessons that two US Navy SEAL officers obtained during their service. These officers led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War. In Extreme Ownership, they apply powerful leadership principles from the battlefield to business and life. Through life-threatening experiences, the two authors learned that leadership is the most important factor responsible for success.
Part I: Winning the War Within
Chapter 1: Extreme Ownership
Leaders must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures by taking ownership of them and developing a plan to win. The best leaders don’t just take responsibility for their job. Instead, they take Extreme Ownership of everything that impacts their mission. Taking this responsibility for failure is challenging and requires extraordinary humility and courage.
What’s more, a leader who exercises Extreme Ownership does not take credit for their team’s successes. Instead, they bestow that honor upon their subordinate leaders and team members. When a leader sets the example of Extreme Ownership, this mindset develops into the team’s culture at every level.
And when you take Extreme Ownership, you take complete ownership of what went wrong. You do this even if it means getting fired. By taking Extreme Ownership, both subordinates and superiors will start respecting you. Unlike the average person, you don’t blame other people. You accept responsibility for what went wrong, and you develop a strategy to get the job done.
Take Extreme Ownership of everything. You are the only one to blame.
Chapter 2: No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders
Leadership is the single greatest factor in any team’s performance. Whether a team succeeds or fails depends on the leader. Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to succeed.
If leaders tolerate substandard performance and don’t hold team members accountable, poor performance becomes the new standard. So, it’s up to the leader to enforce standards and unite the team together, with everyone focused exclusively on how to best accomplish the mission. Then, once a culture of Extreme Ownership is built into the team, the entire team performs.
There are no bad teams, only bad leaders. Therefore, take responsibility for your whole team.
Chapter 3: Believe
The most important question you can answer is why you are adopting a certain approach. Once you understand the mission and the reason behind it, you can fully get behind the mission. And to convince and inspire others to follow and accomplish a mission, a leader must be a true believer in it. The leader must believe in the greater cause.
If a leader does not believe, they won’t take the risks required to overcome the inevitable challenges necessary to win. Their actions and words need to reflect a firm belief in the mission. And when subordinates can see this belief and understand the why, they can proceed while fully believing in what they are doing.
To believe in your team, you have to understand your team’s mission.
“For this reason, they must believe in the cause for which they are fighting. They must believe in the plan they are asked to execute, and most important, they must believe in and trust the leader they are asked to follow.” – Jocko Willink