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Book Notes from 'Extreme Ownership' by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

IntroductionProper understanding and application of the Laws of Combat

  • Leadership: The Single Most Important Factor
    • Without a team - a group of individuals working to accomplish a mission - there can be no leadership
    • The only meaningful measure of a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails
    • For all the definitions, descriptions, and characterizations of leaders - there are only two that matter
      • Effective and ineffective.
    • Effective leaders lead successful teams that accomplish their mission and win
    • Ineffective leaders do not.
    • Every leader and every team as some point or time will fail and must confront failure.
    • For leaders, the humility to admit and own mistakes and develop a plan to overcome this is essential to success.
    • The best leaders are not driven by ego or personal agendas - they are simply focused on the mission and how best to accomplish it.
    • The Battle of Ramadi provided a litany of lessons learned which were able to capture and pass on.
    • The greatest of these was the recognition that leadership is the most important factor on the battlefield.
    • The single greatest reason behind the success of any team.
    • Mentorship from the right leaders is critical
    • Placed new emphasis on training leaders in critical decision making and effective communication in high-pressure situations to better prepare them for combat.
    • The must believe in the cause for which they are fighting.
    • They must believe in the plan they are asked to execute, and most important, they must believe in and trust the leader they are asked to follow.
    • The same principles that make SEAL combat leaders and SEAL units so effective on the battlefield can be applied to the business world with the same success.
    • The leadership and teamwork concepts contained in this book are not abstract theories, but practical and applicable.
  • Organization and Structure
    • Extreme Ownership - leaders must own everything in their world
    • There is no one else to blame
    • Book is in three parts
      • Winning the War Within
        • Develops the fundamental building blocks and mindset necessary to lead and win
      • The Laws of Combat
        • Covers the four critical concepts that enable a team to perform at the highest level and dominate.
      • Sustaining Victory
        • Discusses the more nuanced and difficult balance that leaders must navigate in order to maintain the edge and keep the team perpetually operating at the highest level.
    • Their proper application and understanding ensure effective leaders and high performing teams that produce extraordinary results
    • Enabling leaders to fulfill their purpose - lead and win.
  • Extreme Ownership
    • They were looking for someone to blame - and most likely someone to 'relieve' - someone to fire.
    • Serious mistakes made by many individuals both during the planning phase and on the battlefield during execution.
    • There was only one person to blame for everything that had gone wrong on the operation - me.
    • I was responsible for everything in Task Unit Bruiser - I had to take complete ownership of what went wrong.
    • That is what a leader does - even if it means getting fired.
    • If anyone was to be blamed and fired for what happened - let it be me.
    • There is only one person to blame for this: me
    • I am the commander. I am responsible for the entire operation. As the senior man, I am responsible for every action that takes place on the battlefield. There is no one to blame but me.
    • I was the leader. I was in charge. I was responsible.
    • The full ownership I took of the situation actually increased the trust my commanding officer and master chief had in me
    • But more important, the commanders in training could learn what I had learned about leadership.
    • While some commanders took full responsibility for blue-on-blue, others had blamed their subordinates for simulated fratricide incidents in training.
    • The deep meaning of responsibility: the leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything.
    • That is extreme ownership - the fundamental core of what constitutes an effective leader in the SEAL Teams or in any leadership endeavor.
    • Principle
      • On any team in any organization - all responsibility for success and failure rests on the leader.
      • The leader must own everything in his or her world.
      • The best leaders don’t just take responsibility for their job. - they take extreme ownership of everything that impacts their mission.
      • This concept is the number one characteristic of any high performance winning team, in any military unit, organization, sports team or business in any industry.
      • The leader bears full responsibility for explaining the strategic mission, developing tactics, and securing the training and resources to enable the team to properly and successfully execute.
      • The leader must train and mentor that underperformer.
      • Total responsibility for failure is a difficult thing to accept, and taking ownership when things go wrong requires extraordinary humility and courage.
      • Such a leader - however - does not take credit for his team's success but bestows that honor upon his subordinate leaders and team members.
      • When a leader set such an example and expects this from his junior leaders within the team, the mindset develops into the team's culture at every level.
    • Application to Business
      • Was brought in to provide leadership guidance and executive coaching to the company's vice president of manufacturing.
      • They sound like excuses - excuses.
      • Could there be another reason you plan wasn’t successfully executed?
        • Those all may be factors - but there is one most important reason why this plan has failed.
        • I stated it plainly - 'you. You are the reason.'
      • I explained that the direct responsibility of a leader included getting people to listen, support and execute plans.
      • You cant make people listen to you, you cant make them execute.
      • That might be a temporary solution for a simple task - but to implement real change, to drive people to accomplish something truly complex or difficult or dangerous - you cant make people do those things - you have to lead them.
      • Let me tell you something: when things went wrong, you know who I blamed? - Me, I blamed me.
      • As the commander, everything that happened on the battlefield was my responsibility - everything.
      • No matter what, I could never blame other people when a mission went wrong.
      • With extreme ownership, you must remove individual ego and personal agenda - its all about the mission.
      • Your people don’t need to be fired, they need to be led.
      • In order to execute this plan, in order to truly become an effective leader, you have to realize and accept total responsibility - you have to own it!
      • In virtually case, the SEAL troops and platoons that didn’t perform well had leaders who blamed everyone and everything else - their troops, their subordinate leaders or the scenario.
      • The best performing SEAL units - had leaders who accepted responsibility for everything.
      • The best leaders checked their egos, accepted blame, sought out constructive criticism and took detailed notes for improvement.
      • The good leaders took ownership of the mistakes and shortfalls.
      • Figure out how to fix their problems, instead of trying to figure out who or what to blame.
      • The list started with what he was going to do differently - not about what other people needed to do. 
Posted on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 1:06 PM Agile , TeamBuilding | Back to top

Comments on this post: Extreme Ownership : Blame

# re: Extreme Ownership : Blame
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It may not be easy to be a group leader, yet all efforts will be payed off by the success of the group. - Dennis Wong YOR Health
Left by Robert Paul on Oct 05, 2016 9:59 AM

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# re: Extreme Ownership : Blame
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Left by phu my ford on Jun 13, 2017 10:49 PM

# re: Extreme Ownership : Blame
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many thanks
Left by tmsky on Jun 18, 2017 3:17 AM

# re: Extreme Ownership : Blame
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Left by chevrolet Phu My Hung on Jun 30, 2017 3:01 AM

# re: Extreme Ownership : Blame
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# re: Extreme Ownership : Blame
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