Four Key Thoughts from Extreme Ownership, the new book on Leadership from two Navy SEALs


Extreme OwnershipI’ve just begun reading Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink, Leif Babin, for my synopsis for the December 4 First Friday Book Synopsis. Here are three key quotes from early in the book:

As SEALs, we operate as a team of high-caliber, multitalented individuals who have been through perhaps the toughest military training and most rigorous screening process anywhere. But in the SEAL program, it is all about the Team. The sum is far greater than the parts. We refer to our professional warfare community simply as “the Teams.” We call ourselves “team guys.”

The only meaningful measure for 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.

If an individual on the team is not performing at the level required for the team to succeed, the leader must train and mentor that underperformer. But if the underperformer continually fails to meet standards, then a leader who exercises Extreme Ownership must be loyal to the team and the mission above any individual. If underperformers cannot improve, the leader must make the tough call to terminate them and hire others who can get the job done. It is all on the leader.

So, four obvious implications:

#1 – The team matters more than the individual; more than any individual.

#2 – The only measure of success is successful accomplishment of the mission at hand.

#3 – Since the team’s success (accomplishment of the mission) matters supremely, you keep no individual on the team that would jeopardize the accomplishment of the mission.

#4 – And, thus, the only effective leadership is leadership that leads the team to successful accomplishment of the mission.

I think I’m going to find this book worth reading.

One thought on “Four Key Thoughts from Extreme Ownership, the new book on Leadership from two Navy SEALs

  1. It is clearly one of all time best reads on leadership and teamwork! Lots of real life examples that illustrate the core principles that lead to high performing teams. Provides a powerful framework for any leader of a team.

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