Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif BabinAfter reading about the life and death situations described in this book, I certainly have a new perspective on accountability and responsibility. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin is a dynamic book about leadership!

Extreme Ownership – Main Leadership Concept

The premise of the book is that in order for a team to be successful, each team member has to be accountable for their responsibilities – and the leader is accountable for EVERYTHING that impacts the mission. Willink and Babin explain the concept of Extreme Ownership with vivid examples of successes and failures in the battlefield.

Extreme Ownership – Organized Presentation

I am a fan of organization and processes, and I love that this book is set up in a very organized manner.  There are three parts:

  • Part I – Winning the War Within
  • Part II – Laws of Combat
  • Part III – Sustaining Victory

Each part contains chapters where the authors present one of 12 leadership concepts, then they use engaging story-telling to demonstrate the concepts in the battlefield arena, and finally they provide examples of real-world business applications.

Extreme Ownership – Three Takeaways

I challenge myself to learn at least three things from every book I read. This book is filled with many lessons and applications, but my top three takeaways are:

  • Extreme Ownership – It seems the “blame game” has infiltrated our culture, and to be a great leader of a great team you have to address this mindset for you and your team. This book states that blaming is not an option and that you are accountable for your success in life and in your career.  The authors advise that if you aren’t reaching your goals, then look at yourself first.
  • Prioritize and Execute“Relax, look around and make a call” is the mantra for this chapter. The life and death situation described in this chapter’s war example is riveting.  I have never experienced any situation in business with such high stakes.  I have worked with start-ups that would have benefited from the Prioritize and Execute concept.
  • Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command – This concept really stood out for me because after owning a business for many years I am currently conducting a job search to join a dynamic company. One interview question I anticipate is, “How do you see yourself making the transition from being a business owner to reporting to someone?” The answer to me is simple: I have been “reporting” to my clients all along. I have found that if one communicates in a methodical fashion (Up and Down the Chain of Command), then things run smoothly. Communication is the key in any relationship.

Extreme Ownership – Staff Development Exercise

I think it would be fun for an internal team to read the book together over a period of 12 – 14 weeks.  Stephen Covey recommends in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that the best way to learn is to teach.  Each team member could volunteer to teach their teammates a concept from the book and then develop an exercise for everyone to do in the coming week to reinforce the concept. After you read the book, think about what chapter you would want to teach.  What would be an activity you could ask your team do over the course of a week to reinforce the leadership concept in a fun way that would keep it top of mind?

In this book the storytelling was vivid and the leadership lessons are timeless. I rank this book as one of the top leadership books I have read.

Extreme Ownership – Your Turn

What are the top three things you took away from Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin?

What book are you reading right now?  What are three things you have learned from it?

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