By: Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
This was a good follow on from our last book (Retellable) as an excellent example of how using your story to deliver a message is a highly effective teaching tool. The lessons in this book are not new to me how ever the stories that Jacko Willink and Leif Babin used to convey their lessons of leadership brought me to a deeper understanding of leadership concepts. The lessons are simple because leadership is not complicated, but they are not easy, and I feel every leader should pose and leverage the tools of Extreme Leadership. A leader is responsible for everything that happens or does not happen within his/her team. When something goes wrong the first assessment, we should make is of ourselves. The sooner leaders except their role and responsibility the better off our teams will be. It is up to us to ensure that everyone understands the vision or intent of the organization, the team’s role in working toward the intent, tactical objectives, and performance expectations. Everyone on the team must understand why they are doing what they are doing and believe in it, this must start with the leader believing in the mission, if we are not convinced how can we convince our “troops”. Without this buy-in you can only expect minimal performance from those you lead, so do what it takes to understand and believe in the task you are going to execute, ask questions until you are clear on the “why” then use that to motivate the team. Leaders should check their ego and resist the urge to control everything alone, decentralizing leadership is essential to effective leadership more so the higher you go up the chain. Emergency Managers do a good job of this because we use the Incident Command Structure and span of control concepts. To be effective in decentralized leadership the commander’s intent (or objectives) must be understood by all and authority to decide how to meet that intent delegated to subordinate leaders. Another great Extreme Leadership tool that is embedded in the Emergency Management profession is planning, our planning processes are well developed and understood rather we use the processes in CPG 101 or the incident planning process (planning P) our planning is deliberate and effective. With effective planning we can prioritize our efforts and execute tasks in an efficient order that maximizes the potential for a positive outcome. When leaders take Extreme Ownership of everything in their purview, teams win on the battlefield, during disaster, and in the office.
Leaders are responsible for everything that happens within their teams. Leaders may delegate authority to junior leaders but never responsibility.
Leadership is a science and an art, leaders must not only be able to lead down with clear intent, guidance, and support, but also lead up understanding the intent and information needs of senior leaders and feed that information to the enabling them to make decisions faster, so you can execute sooner.
As a leader, instead of asking senior leaders what to do, get a clear understanding of their intent develop courses of action that work toward that intent and inform them what you are doing.
There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.