Summary: Extreme Ownership by Jock Willink and Leif Babin
Summary: Extreme Ownership by Jock Willink and Leif Babin

Summary: Extreme Ownership by Jock Willink and Leif Babin

As a leader, you are responsible for any successes or failures. It’s not all about good outcomes, you must own it when things go wrong. The ability to acknowledge failures and own up to your mistakes and that of your team is the underlying principle of extreme ownership.


Never blame the team.

It’s your job to hold them accountable, make them perform at the highest standards, well-informed and well-practiced. Still things go awry from time to time. Blaming the team is not an option.


Elevate the under-performers.

When it comes to performance standards, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate. By dedicating time to mentor and train underperformers, you’re dedicating to improve your team performance. Only when an underperformer chooses not to put an effort as much as you do, you must make a tough decision.


There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.

A team is only as good as the person leading the team. Seal training epitomizes this concept.


Detach yourself enough to empower the team.

A team should be empowered enough that even in the absence of a leader, they should be able to continue their own.


But not so much so that you become too distant.

Stay at the front and you become attached to trivial details. Stay behind you will lose sight of operational and tactical matters. So, it’s best to position yourself in the middle.


Check your ego at the door.

Ego clouds constructive criticism from all directions. A leader should always be confident, but never cocky.


No individual is above the team and the mission.

As a leader, let each team member know they’re not an individual, but part of a larger whole. Any successful team works together seamlessly, while every individual step up, takes accountability for their job and support each other.


Simplify your way to success.

When things get complicated, people misunderstand, and wires get crossed. Simplify your plan down to the last bit so everyone understands every step of the way.


Prioritize and execute.

Identify problem with the highest priority and communicate your priorities to the team. Establish the best solution for each problem together with the team. Redirect all the efforts to the highest priority unit it’s solved. Repeated these steps for following priorities.


Decentralize command.

Humans are not wired to effectively manage more than 10 people. Chunk your team into groups of no more than 5, with one designated leader. Make sure you grant the leaders power to do their jobs effectively.


A leader’s planning checklist
  1. Define the mission and end-state.
  2. Identify resources and time constraints.
  3. Delegate key leaders to help plan.
  4. Identify the best solution in simple terms.
  5. Ensure key leaders are on the same page.
  6. Understand possible outcomes at each stage.
  7. Eliminate risks as much as possible.
  8. Refine the plan as any new information arises.
  9. Make sure everyone has a complete understanding.
  10. Allow time for questions and discussions.
  11. Debrief after execution on the lessons learned and things, you’d do better next time.


Lead up and down the chain of command.

It’s not enough you immersed in leading down the chain, you must also manage the relationship and command coming from above. Be ready to hold your ground or push back if the mission puts your entire team at risk.


Sometimes waiting for certainty only delays things.

Leaders must be comfortable making decisions on educated guesses, past situations and possible outcomes.