Extreme Ownership

When it comes to standards, as a leader, its not what you preach. Its what you tolerate

Do you own a business? Are you a leader? Owning a business does not automatically make you a good leader. And you do not have to own a business to be a leader. But let’s face it, in business, if something does not work, it is the business owner that must resolve the issue. By utilizing the philosophies behind extreme ownership, good leaders can become great and business owners that are not good at leading can have the foundation to start.

Being a business owner entails far more than just signing your name on the dotted line when you file your documents with the state or signing your operating agreement. It means more than being able to tell people that you own a business. It is not something that is suited for everyone. Extreme ownership, on the other hand, is something that everyone can use to become a better business owner, a better leader, or a better employee.

As a business owner, you have a vision. The vision is how you see your future, your dreams, your goals for retirement, or whatever you consider “having arrived”. However, you can only implement that dream with a team. So, now you’ve got your team in place but things aren’t working out as you expected. People are making mistakes and communication is not good between departments. This happens because we’re all human, we make mistakes, and we do not always think logically. Things are just not working out as you planned. Who is to blame? Is it the team’s fault, or is it your own fault? You are their leader. If you haven’t clearly and precisely identified how everyone’s roles integrate into your vision and allow them to see the direct correlation between their job and the overall success of the company, then it’s your fault.

Extreme ownership is about accepting responsibility for every mistake that happens and ensuring that the proper training, the most efficient process, and effective communication are used to mitigate the chances of that mistake happening again. What went right? What went wrong? How can we adapt to be more effective? In every situation, there is room for improvement. This happens when there is a good planning checklist in place.

  1. Analyze the mission
  2. Identify personnel, assets, resources, and time available
  3. Decentralize the planning process
  4. Determine the specific course of action
  5. Empower key leaders to develop the plan for the selected course of action
  6. Plan for likely contingencies through each phase of the operation
  7. Mitigate risks that can be controlled as much as possible
  8. Delegate portions of the plan and brief to key junior leaders
  9. Continually check and question the plan against emerging information to ensure it still fits the situation
  10. Brief the plan to all participants and supporting assets
  11. Conduct post-operational debrief after execution

Extreme ownership is very humbling. You must set aside your pride and quit the blame game. If an employee makes a mistake, then how did you as a leader fail them? If your team is not reaching goals, then have you truly clarified the objectives? If you keep getting more and more questions from your superiors, then what details are you leaving out or how can you explain yourself better? As the leader, you must set the tone and set the example that you want your employees and colleagues to follow.

What example are you setting?

Irene Burgett

Chief Financial Officer

Willink, Jocko and Babin, Leif. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2015.

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