Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win

Rating: 4/5

The authors Willink and Babin pull leadership tactics from their time as Navy Seals and apply them to the business sphere emphasizing this concept of extreme ownership. At its core, extreme ownership encourages leaders to take responsibility for everything around them including failures. They make the argument that leadership is often a deciding factor in success (“No bad teams, only bad leaders”).

I enjoyed the read and took many principles away that I’m trying to apply in my own life. My favorite section was at the end under “Part III: Sustaining Victory.” The authors covered a few tactics like developing and communicating a plan effectively, leading up and down the chain of command, and handling decisiveness and uncertainty that I felt were personally relevant.

Reading Notes

Junior leaders must know that the boss will back them up even if they make a decision that may not result in the best outcome, as long as the decision was made in an effort to achieve the strategic objective.

The authors had several tips for creating a successful mission brief that are applicable to delivering any sort of mission/goal to an organization:

  • “Leaders must be careful to prioritize the information to be presented in as simple, clear, and concise a format as possible so that participants do not experience information overload.”
  • “If the frontline troops are unclear about the plan and yet are too intimidated to ask questions, the team’s ability to effectively execute the plan radically decreases. Thus, leaders must ask questions of their troops, encourage interaction, and ensure their teams understand the plan.”

On the topic of leading up the chain

  • “Take responsibility for leading everyone in your world, subordinates and superiors alike.”
  • “If someone isn’t doing what you want or need them to do, look in the mirror first and determine what you can do to better enable this.”
  • “Don’t ask your leader what you should do, tell them what you are going to do.”
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