Book review: Extreme ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Book review: Extreme ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

12 août 2021
Marie Croes
  • 📖 Extreme Ownership: leadership is simple, but not easy

    A must-read leadership book by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.
    🏹 Learn the leadership principles from these two US Navy SEAL Officers who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq war.

    In this book, they make parallels between the battlefield and business.

    🚀 There fundamental statement is simple:
    The best leaders take extreme ownership of everything that impacts their mission. There is no one else to blame. There are no bad teams, only bad leaders. Full stop.

    For those who cannot wait to start reading, here are the main takeaways:
    ➡️ Whatever happens, first look in the mirror at yourself: what can YOU do to change the situation?
    ➡️ Set your ego aside, accept responsibility for failures, attack weaknesses, and consistently work to build a better and more effective team.
    ➡️ As a leader, it’s not what you preach; it’s what you tolerate.
    ➡️ A leader should never be satisfied. They must always strive to improve and build that mindset into the team.
    ➡️ A leader must be a true believer in the mission, the greater cause, to convince and inspire others.
    ➡️ It’s all about teamwork: if the overall team fails, everyone fails.
    ➡️ Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success (including the mission).
    ➡️ Stay a step or two ahead of real-time problems.
    ➡️ Decentralized command is always more effective (max leadership scope is 6 to 10 people).
    ➡️ Focus on both leading up and down: stay connected with both sides of the chain.
    ➡️ There is no 100% right solution. The picture is never complete. Be ready to adjust decisions.

Struggles of a manager

Managers are

  • new in this role


    • lack self-confidence
    • don’t know how to go from being a colleague to being a boss
    • need to loosen up on the command & control leadership style
    • must let go of the (technical) expert status
    • cannot give or accept constructive feedback
    • feel pressure to perform as manager
    • have difficulty building relationships
    • want to be liked by everyone or want to be the ‘bad boss’
    • play the hero
  • are struggling


    • stay too involved in operations
    • have trouble prioritizing
    • cannot delegate
    • fear conflict situations
    • disconnect from the team
    • deal with flawed strategic thinking
    • do not relate to higher management
    • lack clear communication skills
    • remain not self-aware
    • avoid difficult conversations
    • miss political antennas
    • ...
  • capable of more


    • need mental preparation as successor
    • need to be able to lead big changes ahead
    • need to learn to be emotionally resilient and in control
    • need to learn to make big decisions fast without all the information
    • must become persuasive presenters
    • need to learn how to cultivate their own personal brand
    • need to learn how to lead by example
    • manage by trust, not by fear
    • need to overly develop empathy
    • ...
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