Extreme Ownership – How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

I’ve read a lot of books about leadership throughout my career.  For me the best book is this one, written not by a PhD, business leader, military general, or guru. This one is by two former Navy Seals who served in the pivotal Battle of Ramaldi in Iraq. 

Willink and Babin effectively present their principles of leadership by explaining how they worked on the battlefield and how they can be applied to business. I wish I had the benefit of this future classic earlier in my career.  I would have been a better leader and follower.

“The idea for this book was born from the realization that the principles critical to SEAL success on the battlefield – how SEALs train and prepare their leaders, how they mold and develop high-performance teams, and how they lead in combat – are directly applicable to success in any group, organization, corporation, business, and, to a broader degree, life.  This book provides the reader with our formula for success: the mind-set and guiding principles that enable SEAL leaders and combat units to achieve extraordinary results. It demonstrates how to apply these directly in business and life to likewise achieve victory.”

Leadership is the most important factor in mission accomplishment and the only meaningful measure of a leader is whether his/her team succeeds or fail.

The first, overriding principle is that exceptional leaders take absolute ownership of the mission.  They do not blame others.  There are no excuses.  They put their egos aside and solve problems.  Ego disrupts plans and the acceptance of advice and constructive criticism.

They discuss a tactic called “cover and move” which simply means teamwork – mutual support in a singular mission.  Decentralized command is vital.  Junior leaders must clearly understand the mission and be truly empowered to accomplish it.

These are just a few of the principles explained.  They will resonate with any leader who truly wishes to lead.

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