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Book Notes from 'Extreme Ownership' by Jacko Willink & Leif Babin

  • No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders
    • It pays to be a winner
    • Hell week is not a fitness test - it was not a physical test - but a mental one
    • Success resulted from determination and will, but also from innovation and communication within the team.
    • The boat crew leader bore responsibility for the performance of his boat crew. - each member of the boat crew had to perform, but the leader received the most scrutiny from the instructor staff.
    • Point was driven home by the SEAL instructors - who constantly reminded the students - "It pays to be the winner"
    • Giving detailed and intentionally complicated instructions to the boat crew leaders - who in turn briefed their men and executed the instructions as best they could in their exhausted state.
    • The SEAL command to being was 'Stand by…bust em'
    • They compensated for each other's weaknesses, helped each other, and took pride in winning, which had its rewards.
    • They were winning and morale was high.
    • Rather than working together as a team - the men were operating as individuals, furious and frustrated with their teammates.
    • SEAL officers were expected to perform like everyone else, but more importantly, they were also expected to lead
    • "Let's swap out the boat crew leaders from the best and the worst crews and see what happens."
      • Only a single individual - the leader would change.
      • Glaring, undeniable example of one of the most fundamental and important truths at the heart of extreme ownership: there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.
    • Leadership is the single greatest factor in any team's performance. - whether the team succeeds or fails is all up to the leader.
    • The leaders attitude sets the tone for the entire team - the leader drives performance or doesn’t.
    • I discovered that it was far more effective to focus on their efforts not on the days to come or the far distant finish line - but instead on a physical goal immediately in front of them.
    • If we could execute with monumental effort just to reach an immediate goal that everyone could see - we could then continue to the next attainable goal and then the next.
    • The concept of no bad teams, only bad leaders was a difficult one to accept but nevertheless a crucial concept that leaders must fully understand and implement to enable them to most effectively lead a high performance team.
    • Leaders must accept total responsibility, own problems that inhibit performance, and develop solutions to those problems.
    • Five week long junior officer training course - a program focused on their leadership development.
    • If their platoons underperformed it was up to them to solve problems, overcome obstacles and get the team working together to accomplish the mission.
    • Principle
      • There are no bad units - only bad officers.
      • When leaders who epitomize Extreme Ownership drive their teams to achieve a higher standard of performance - they must recognize that when it comes to standards, as a leader, its not what you preach its what you tolerate.
      • Leaders must ensure that tasks are repeated until the higher expected standard is achieved.
      • Leaders should never be satisfied - they must always strive to improve and they must build that mind-set into the team.
      • The best teams anywhere, like the SEAL teams are constantly looking to improve, add capability, and push the standards higher.
    • Application to Business.
      • Explaining why he had invested in this training. - we aren't winning.
      • How can you apply Extreme Ownership to your teams to succeed and help your company win?
      • The CTO was full of excuses for why his team had failed and for the resulting damage to the company's bottom line.
      • Attitude reflected Victimization -
      • The leader and each member of boat crew six - focused not on the mission but on themselves, their own exhaustion, misery, and individual pain and suffering.
      • The new leader focused on the mission - rather than tolerate their bickering and infighting - he pulled the team together and focused their efforts on the single specific goal of winning the race.
      • Extreme Ownership - good leadership is contagious.
      • Whether or not your team succeeds or fails is all on you.
      • If you aren't winning then you are not making the right decisions.
      • When it comes to performance standards - its not what you preach, it's what you tolerate
      • You have to drive your CTO to exercise Extreme Ownership - to acknowledge mistakes, stop blaming others, and lead his team to success.
      • There are only two types of leaders - effective & ineffective
        • Effective leaders that lead successful, high performance teams exhibit extreme ownership
        • Anything else is bad leadership
Posted on Thursday, October 6, 2016 1:03 PM Agile , TeamBuilding | Back to top


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