Extreme Ownership

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Highlights from July 26, 2021

  • These leaders cast no blame. They made no excuses. Instead of complaining about challenges or setbacks, they developed solutions and solved problems. They leveraged assets, relationships, and resources to get the job done. Their own egos took a back seat to the mission and their troops. These leaders truly led. (Location 34)
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  • Once people stop making excuses, stop blaming others, and take ownership of everything in their lives, they are compelled to take action to solve their problems. (Location 44)
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  • leadership is the most important thing on the battlefield and the principles of good leadership do not change regardless of the mission, the environment, or the personalities of those involved. Leading is leading. (Location 72)
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  • After all, there can be no leadership where there is no team. (Location 117)
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  • “Relax. Look around. Make a call.” (Location 241)
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  • Cover and Move, Simple, Prioritize and Execute, and Decentralized Command. (Location 243)
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  • When applied to any team, group, or organization, the proper understanding and execution of these Laws of Combat would mean one thing: victory. (Location 282)
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  • The only meaningful measure for a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails. (Location 292)
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  • The best leaders are not driven by ego or personal agendas. They are simply focused on the mission and how best to accomplish it. (Location 299)
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  • The greatest of these was the recognition that leadership is the most important factor on the battlefield, the single greatest reason behind the success of any team. (Location 336)
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  • Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame. (Location 379)
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  • I had to take complete ownership of what went wrong. That is what a leader does—even if it means getting fired. If anyone was to be blamed and fired for what happened, let it be me. (Location 542)
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  • the leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything. (Location 585)
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  • On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win. (Location 588)
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  • 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. (Location 597)
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  • Such a leader, however, does not take credit for his or her team’s successes but bestows that honor upon his subordinate leaders and team members. (Location 607)
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  • With Extreme Ownership, junior leaders take charge of their smaller teams and their piece of the mission. Efficiency and effectiveness increase exponentially and a high-performance, winning team is the result. (Location 609)
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  • there are no bad teams, only bad leaders. (Location 856)
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  • leadership is the single greatest factor in any team’s performance. (Location 857)
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  • Leaders must accept total responsibility, own problems that inhibit performance, and develop solutions to those problems. (Location 877)
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  • 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, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate. (Location 935)
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  • Leaders should never be satisfied. (Location 949)
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  • In order to convince and inspire others to follow and accomplish a mission, a leader must be a true believer in the mission. (Location 1239)
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  • Leaders must always operate with the understanding that they are part of something greater than themselves and their own personal interests. (Location 1243)
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  • Ego clouds and disrupts everything: the planning process, the ability to take good advice, and the ability to accept constructive criticism. It can even stifle someone’s sense of self-preservation. Often, the most difficult ego to deal with is your own. (Location 1580)
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  • Cover and Move: it is the most fundamental tactic, perhaps the only tactic. Put simply, Cover and Move means teamwork. All elements within the greater team are crucial and must work together to accomplish the mission, mutually supporting one another for that singular purpose. (Location 1856)
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  • Combat, like anything in life, has inherent layers of complexities. Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success. (Location 2097)
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  • And when things go wrong, and they inevitably do go wrong, complexity compounds issues that can spiral out of control into total disaster. (Location 2098)
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  • Simple: this principle isn’t limited to the battlefield. In the business world, and in life, there are inherent complexities. It is critical to keep plans and communication simple. Following this rule is crucial to the success of any team in any combat, business or life. (Location 2105)
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  • Prioritize and Execute. (Location 2353)
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  • Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously. The team will likely fail at each of those tasks. Instead, leaders must determine the highest priority task and execute. When overwhelmed, fall back upon this principle: Prioritize and Execute. (Location 2398)
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  • A particularly effective means to help Prioritize and Execute under pressure is to stay at least a step or two ahead of real-time problems. (Location 2404)
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  • Just as in combat, priorities can rapidly shift and change. When this happens, communication of that shift to the rest of the team, both up and down the chain of command, is critical. Teams must be careful to avoid target fixation on a single issue. (Location 2416)
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  • To implement Prioritize and Execute in any business, team, or organization, a leader must: • evaluate the highest priority problem. • lay out in simple, clear, and concise terms the highest priority effort for your team. • develop and determine a solution, seek input from key leaders and from the team where possible. • direct the execution of that solution, focusing all efforts and resources toward this priority task. • move on to the next highest priority problem. Repeat. • when priorities shift within the team, pass situational awareness both up and down the chain. • don’t let the focus on one priority cause target fixation. Maintain the ability to see other problems developing and rapidly shift as needed. (Location 2419)
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  • On the battlefield, I expected my subordinate leaders to do just that: lead. (Location 2495)
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  • Human beings are generally not capable of managing more than six to ten people, particularly when things go sideways and inevitable contingencies arise. No one senior leader can be expected to manage dozens of individuals, much less hundreds. Teams must be broken down into manageable elements of four to five operators, with a clearly designated leader. (Location 2698)
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  • That was what mission planning was all about: never taking anything for granted, preparing for likely contingencies, and maximizing the chance of mission success while minimizing the risk to the troops executing the operation. (Location 2951)
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  • What’s the mission? Planning begins with mission analysis. Leaders must identify clear directives for the team. Once they themselves understand the mission, they can impart this knowledge to their key leaders and frontline troops tasked with executing the mission. (Location 2960)
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  • As the U.S. Naval hero of the American Revolution and Father of the U.S. Navy, John Paul Jones, said: “Those who will not risk cannot win.” (Location 2994)
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  • A post-operational debrief examines all phases of an operation from planning through execution, in a concise format. It addresses the following for the combat mission just completed: What went right? What went wrong? How can we adapt our tactics to make us even more effective and increase our advantage over the enemy? (Location 2999)
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  • As a leader employing Extreme Ownership, if your team isn’t doing what you need them to do, you first have to look at yourself. (Location 3320)
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  • your boss isn’t making a decision in a timely manner or providing necessary support for you and your team, don’t blame the boss. First, blame yourself. (Location 3423)
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  • One of the most important jobs of any leader is to support your own boss—your immediate leadership. (Location 3432)
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  • In some cases, the answers to who attacked and how will never be known. Regardless, leaders cannot be paralyzed by fear. (Location 3652)
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