Extreme Ownership At Every Level

Amber KesslerLeadershipLeave a Comment

Recently I have been on a Navy SEALS kick and have been absorbing as much information as possible from former SEALS like Jocko Willink and Mark Divine, as well as information on what made them successful over countless others who’ve attempted to be among these elite ranks.

During this stint I grabbed the book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, who share SEAL leadership best practices and how they translate into the business world.

After retiring from the SEALS, Willink and Babin started a consulting business, Echelon Front, teaching their Leadership ideas to major organizations around the world.  This experience is what brought about the idea for their book and where many of their examples are drawn from.

While many of the ideas aren’t exactly new, it can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and of business that a reminder would do us good.  This book provides perspective on how we can succeed, how we can help our employees succeed, and ultimately benefit the entire company.

For me, perhaps the biggest take away is the reminder that extreme ownership happens at every level, not just at the top.  It can be easy to blame any issues you’re encountering on your manager or the leaders of the company, but the truth is we all play a role in making a business successful.

One of the chapters that discusses this more in-depth is titled “Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command.”  In this chapter they remind us that if you’re having an issue getting your ideas approved or getting answers to your questions from your manager, than it’s up to you to put yourself in their shoes and better understand why this is happening.

When you present ideas, are you giving enough information for your boss to make an informed decision?  If your idea doesn’t pan out, your boss is responsible and will be the first to take any backlash. So if you’re proposing a $30,000 idea, have you done your homework to answer any questions your boss would have?

If you’re not getting the responses you need, are you using your boss’s preferred form of communication? Do you even know your boss’s preferred form of communication?  I once had a boss who was constantly on the move and hardly spent time at his desk, therefore I hardly ever got responses via email.  I learned that having a face-to-face conversation was always best.  Your boss is busy and is constantly making decisions,

On the other side of the equation, as a leader you also have to lead your employees on how they can better get your attention and communicate with you.  Do you often find it difficult to get work done during the day because you’re getting so many emails from your employees or because people are popping their head into your office all day?

“When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable—if there are no consequences—that poor performance becomes the new standard.”
― Jocko Willink, Extreme Ownership

Then you might try setting an hour or two a day when your office is closed and you are unavailable for meetings or “pop-ins.”  You can also ask that all of your employees add all of their questions to one email that they send off at the end of the day.  But it is up to you to set these boundaries and let your employees know how you can more effectively help.

I once had a co-worker reviewing a project I was working on, she sent me an email every time she had a comment or question… which meant I had 10 emails within 20 minutes.  I couldn’t get any work done because my inbox was pinging what felt like every 30 seconds.  I had to gently ask her to add all of her comments to one email that she’d send at the end of her review.

This might be an extreme example, but it illustrates the idea that some people have no idea how their behavior is affecting others.

Interested in learning about the rest of their leadership principles to become a more effective leader? Pick up your copy here  Next week we’ll be reviewing the second book by Jocko Willink titled “Discipline Equals Freedom.”

Now I’d like to hear from you!  Have you read “Extreme Ownership?” Or do you have any leadership tips you’d like to share?  Is there something you can do today to take Extreme Ownership of your job, let me know below?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *