This year I have committed to reading fifty books.
My first read caught me somewhat by surprise – Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Jocko and Leif are two combat-proven U.S. Navy SEAL Officers, who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the war in Iraq and demonstrate throughout how powerful SEAL leadership principles apply to business and life.
I seriously think this may be one of the best leadership books I have read. Each chapter is broken into three parts; the first identifies a leadership lesson learned through Navy SEAL combat or training experience, the second explains the leadership principle and the third demonstrates the principles application to the business world.
Through riveting storytelling and the use of military language, the book explains the laws of combat applicable to any situation; Extreme Ownership, Cover and Move, Simple, Prioritize and Execute, and Decentralized Command.
Extreme Ownership in particular prompted some deep reflection. The principle dictates that an individual must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame. For anything. If something isn’t working as it should, a team isn’t functioning or a relationship between two staff members isn’t working, then it is the leader’s responsibilty to look in the mirror and take extreme ownership of the situation. As Willink explains,
“As individuals, we often attribute the success of others to luck or circumstances and make excuses for our own failures and the failures of our team. We blame our poor performance on bad luck, circumstances beyond our control, or poorly performing subordinates – anyone but ourselves. Total responsibility for failure is a difficult thing to accept, and taking ownership when things go wrong requires extraordinary humility and courage. But doing just that is an absolute necessity to learning, growing as a leader and improving a team’s performance.”
I think this is a worthy challenge to all teachers and leaders in schools in 2017. Take Extreme Ownership of your situation. Take personal responsibility for failures. Have a difficult parent to deal with? Not happy about something in the curriculum? A relationship with a co-worker has broken down? A team you lead not performing satisfactorily? Take Extreme Ownership, engage others in the conversation and create a solid no-nonsense list of corrective measures that can be implemented to improve the situational outcome.
This book is a must read. Practical leadership lessons from a diferent perspective.