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

I want to start off the year with a good push in the right direction and found Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win while browsing Audible’s top rated Business books. Here are links to the book:


One Chapter Per Day

Since I spend at least an hour walking Maggie each day I’m a listening to the book on Audible. (Thank you for sharing your credits with me Jordan. That means I can get through a chapter of the book each day. I’m limiting myself to 1 chapter per day because I want to do a good job evaluating the lessons and thinking about how to implement them in my work and day-to-day life.

Good Leaders Own Outcomes

Chapter 1 is direct and relates to the title of the book immediately. Own all of the outcomes. If the project objectives are not being completed then it’s my fault for not properly delegating or explaining tasks. If the project receives poor reviews from customers it’s because I did not create proper evaluation procedures before a release. If sales are low it’s because I didn’t work with the sales team enough or create a better pricing structure. It’s me. I did it.

Great Leaders Give Credit Away

But then things take a quick turn when there are successful endings. Yes, I had something to do with it, but it’s more important to pass the credit to the people who did the work. Chances are that was a developer, or salesperson, or project manager.

This is really hard to do if you have a big ego. Egos cause us to look for scapegoats. They get us to stand tall and puff our chests when we get things right. These are bad practices. Don’t let your ego in the way. When you hear yourself making excuses…that’s your ego. When you take the compliment you earned because of your team’s performance and don’t pass it on…that’s your ego. Stop it.

Friendly Fire

I love how this book always points toward the key to success being the ability to own outcomes. Chapter 1 of the book gives the example of a Seal team leader who is involved in a blue on blue or friendly fire incident. I’m not a military man, but the authors, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin do a great job explaining how catastrophic soldiers treat blue on blue incidents. These moments are a risk that can never be eliminated, but every soldier does everything they can to avoid this mistake, but we have similar issues each day in our jobs.

How many times have departments been faced with a miscommunication or lack of information from another department. Maybe the sales team didn’t get the latest marketing brief or get notified of the new update to the software from the development team. While this is in no way as catastrophic as bullets blazing toward team members it has the effect of stopping progress. When an employee knowingly holds back when they know negative effects will ensue, it’s friendly fire. Don’t tolerate that. Don’t do it. If someone does it, make sure they never do it again. Every company faces this issue in the form of knowledge sharing. Successful companies find ways to nurture knowledge sharing. Struggling or stale companies do not. They are full of employees who are petrified to share their knowledge for fear or being replaced.

Leaders need to teach, mentor, find and fix weaknesses in the team, and above all else take ownership of outcomes. This has been a great choice as my first book of the year and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs that extra push to start the year off right.

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