Extreme Ownership - How U.S. Navy Seals Lead & Win is a book written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, former U.S. Navy Seal Officers They are the owners of Echelon Front, a consulting firm offering solutions to complex global problems.
Extreme Ownership had a profound impact my approach to leadership.
Here are some takeaways I bookmarked along my journey to the last page.
Simplicity is the key to success and happiness. We have a tendency to over complicate everything and I am one of the worst culprits of this. As Albert Einstein said, - “Out of clutter find simplicity.”
Simple means ---> easy to understand.
Keep your plans, gear, processes and communication as simple as possible. Complexity will surely result in chaos and catastrophic results.
Team Structure is critical to the success of any enterprise. No one manager should have more than four to six direct reports. Having more will surely result in unmanageability when issues arise.
Middle and lower leaders must be empowered with decision making power on each mission and they need to understand not only how and what needs to be completed, but why they are leading it. Without a clear "why" the intrinsic motivation necessary for success will not exist.
In order for this type of Decentralized Command to be successful junior leaders must have trust that senior leaders will back their decisions. This requires excellent and simple communication up and down the chain of command. As new information arises that impacts the strategic direction of a mission it must be communicated upward and downward to ensure the right decisions are being made at the right time. Without this level of trust and communication, junior leaders cannot confidently execute their mission.
Give time and thought to all you do. - Fortune
Planning is the first and most critical step for any mission. It is the foundation upon which the rest of your mission is built. A solid foundation will help ensure excellence in mission execution.
Here is an example of what a leader's planning checklist might include:
The above standard operating procedure for planning might not be what you need for your team or organization, but it is critical that you have one way of planning that can be replicated across teams to help create consistency and flow through each project. This kind of behavior creates predictability and helps prevent chaos. Adding multiple procedures for a repeatable task results in chaos, a decrease in quality and productivity, uncertainty , unhappiness and greater risk.
After each mission be sure to debrief with your team. Answering these simple questions will help instill the concept of Constant and Never Ending Improvement (CANI).
Leadership is a constant balancing act that requires a humble and competitive spirit.
There are hundreds of components that must be kept in balance in order to remain an effective leader.
The Dichotomy of Leadership
A good leader must be:
A good leader has nothing to prove, but everything to prove.
Throughout my life as a son, brother, friend, Boy Scout, Digital Marketer and Entrepreneur I have found that leadership is by far the hardest thing that I have ever set out to master; and therefore it has been the most rewarding. To lead people including myself from chaos into a state of zen is truly humbling and something I hope everyone can experience in their lifetime.
I recommend every leader read Extreme Ownership. You can order the book on a variety of online retailers and learn more about it on Echelon Front.
To your success and journey as a leader…
Source: Willink, Jocko and Leif Babin. Extreme Ownership – How U.S. Navy Seals Lead & Win. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2015.
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