Many of us desire to know how to be better leaders. One of the best books in the world on this subject is "Extreme Ownership". It is a book that is written by two retired Navy SEALs , Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. They have a combined 33 years of battlefield experience. They served together in Task Unit Bruiser which was part of SEAL Team Three in Ramadi, one of the most violent cities in Iraq. By applying elite concepts of leadership, they secured the city. Their victories, losses and moments of heroism are all recorded in their book. Moreover, they explain the concepts that make SEAL teams so effective under pressure. Today, Jocko and Leif are the co-founders and executive coaches of Echelon Front. This a company which teaches elite military leadership tactics to organizations and companies. This dynamic duo of retired Navy SEALS teaches small businesses and even Fortune 500 companies how to create elite teams and achieve complete victory in their own unique battlefields. Read on to discover some lessons we learned from "Extreme Ownership".
True leaders embrace extreme ownership
The main concept of this book is Extreme Ownership. Also referred to as complete ownership, this is the quality of being fully responsible for your actions and their results. The authors indicate that the only person who is to blame for your success or failure is you. You cannot decide to blame your budget, boss, products, competitors or the economy for your performance. You are in control of your own actions and by having and using this control, you can determine the outcomes of your actions. You are fully accountable for your success or failure in your career, your family and your life in general. You must take ownership even when things go wrong. You are the leader of your life and probably your family, workforce or organization. As such, you must demonstrate extreme ownership by acknowledging your failures or mistakes and making a plan to win.
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The mission must be clear as day
For a team to be successful, the authors indicate that every member must understand what to do and why they should do it. The role of a leader is to communicate the mission and strategic picture that they have for their team. This eliminates the necessity of explaining every single decision. An extreme leader allows the members of their team to ask questions. This is because it is part of their responsibility to ensure that every individual in the team believes in the mission and has a clear picture of the objectives involved. By using their actions and words to affirm the mission and the strategy which is required, true leaders create confidence in the team members and deliver successful results.
Check your ego at the door
To be an effective leader, Jocko and Leif indicate that you need to check your ego and do not involve it in your professional business. You should exhibit humility. Always accept ideas which are better than yours. This is even if these ideas come from lower ranks than yours. When a mistake happens, you must take full responsibility and then chart a new path of action. The main problem with ego is that it clouds your judgment, planning and ability to take advice. Moreover, you are unable to take constructive criticism if you have a big ego. Therefore, ensure that you check it as often as you can so as to display extreme leadership.
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Cover and move
You will never find a situation where you have 100% certainty in the results of your actions. Many of us are tempted to simply wait and see how things will go before we take action. This is simply postponing a decision. According to the authors of this book, the bigger picture is never complete. You must move forward and cover your risk. To demonstrate extreme leadership, you should acknowledge the presence of uncertainty, cover your risk and keep moving forward in your mission. Dictate the situation instead of letting the situation dictate your decisions.
Sustain your victory
According to the authors of this book, effective teams are not made of a leader and many followers. They are made of many leaders working together with one representing them all. If you are not the representing leader, then a some point you may have to overlook your own opinion and support that of this main officer in your team. When demonstrating extreme leadership, you should support your boss. You many not always agree with them. However, if your boss picks a particular plan of action and the decision is final, you must go along with it and support it as if it was your own. This is how to sustain victory throughout the ranks.
Bad teams don't exist, only bad leaders do
One of the characteristics of good leadership is that it is contagious. Good leaders are able to inspire transformation in people and improve their ability to complete tasks. Such leaders are able to create a culture of teamwork, accountability and the desire to win above all else. One of the concepts that effective leaders create is mutual accountability. This is where each member of a team requires the others to exhibit peak performance at all times. Each individual also knows exactly why they need to win and they do everything possible to accomplish this. The success or failure of a team is always up to its leader.
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Leadership must occur throughout the chain of command
According to former Navy SEALS Jocko and Leif, elite teams are made of leaders. There is mutual respect for each other in these teams. The leadership qualities in each individual of the team makes them an elite team member. To be an elite team member, you must first of all be responsible for leading every individual in your world. These are the superiors and the subordinates too. If a member of the team is not performing as is required, begin by assessing yourself to see if you are contributing to this in any way. After that, proceed to help them correct themselves. Also, refrain from asking your leader what you should do. Instead, inform them of what you intend to do.
The Important Take Away
Some of the best leadership structures in the world exist in the military. Moreover, the Navy SEALs are recognized as some of the most elite teams globally. They handle incredibly complex missions with tactical excellence. The authors of "Extreme Leadership" are both retired SEALs. They share their wisdom and experience about leadership in this book. By learning and internalizing the lessons above, you can effectively transform yourself and your team into extreme leaders.