I get asked about book recommendations all the time. In terms of leadership, which one book would you recommend? There are many leadership books out there, but there’s one that will definitely make you think differently and question yourself.
Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin wrote one of the greatest leadership books of all time: Extreme Ownership – How U.S. NAVY Seals Lead and Win.
Learn their 12 principles for effective leadership:
Principle #1: Extreme Ownership
True leaders take total responsibility for their results. Successes, failures, and everything in between — it’s on them. They don’t play the blame game. They take ownership to take control, solve problems, and get sh!t done.
Principle #2: No bad teams, only bad leaders
Your team’s performance is on you. Responding to problems by ignoring them or getting angry will only encourage team members to do the same. Face the challenges head-on, strengthen weak spots, and work together to grow.
Principle #3: Be a Believer
A leader must believe in their mission to inspire their team. Clarity in your goals is required to inspire an achievement mindset. Get crystal clear on the WHY to convince your team to follow you with passion and commitment.
Principle #4: Check the Ego
Personal ambition must never come at the expense of the team, organization, or mission. A leader must keep egos in check — their team members and their own. They are willing to learn, accept good ideas from others, and admit when they’re wrong.
Principle #5: Cover and Move
With broader, organizational goals in mind, teams must collaborate with others. Just like ego doesn’t serve the greater good, neither does team pride or competition. A leader must emphasize cross-collaboration.
Principle #6: Keep It Simple
Simplify plans to better communicate them and ensure every member understands their role and what’s at stake. When things go wrong, complexity compounds the problem. Simplicity enables understanding, buy-in, and adaptability.
Principle #7: Prioritize and Execute
Trying to do too much at once guarantees you succeed at nothing. Effective leaders prioritize projects and goals and execute one at a time before moving onto the next.
Principle #8: Decentralize Command
Leaders who fail to empower junior leaders become the bottleneck to progress. Ensure your junior leaders understand their goals, have a plan to execute, and can trust you have their back. Maximize your impact by enabling others.
Principle #9: Plan
Make sure you have an effective approach to planning as a team — identifying risks, evaluating options, and working together to execute. When you involve your team in strategic planning, they better understand and believe in the mission and the strategy.
Principle #10: Leading Up the Chain
Do not blame the leaders above you for your poor performance. Improve your communication up the chain and ensure you have the needed support to effectively execute your mission. Again, your results are your responsibility alone.
Principle #11: Act Decisively
Intelligence gathering and research are important, but leaders must take action even amidst uncertainty. There is no perfect answer. Have the confidence to move decisively and adjust quickly to changing conditions.
Principle #12: Discipline Equals Freedom
Being disciplined about the fundamentals allows for more creativity, freedom, and efficiency where it matters. A disciplined framework enables decentralized command and adaptability when needed.
Bottom line: Extreme Ownership is a must read book for every leader; get it!