Extreme Ownership

Jocko Willink & Leif Babin


How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

PART I - The War Within

Chapter 1 - Extreme Ownership (Jocko Willink)

"The leader must own everything in his 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."

Chapter 2 - No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders (Leif Babin)

"There are no bad teams, only bad leaders."

"It's not what you preach, it's what you tolerate."

Concept of "tortured genius"

Chapter 3 - Believe (Jocko Willink)

"In order to convince and inspire others to follow and accomplish a mission, a leader must be a true believer in the mission."

Decentralised command: "The leader must explain not just what to do, but why. It is the responsibility of the subordinate leader to reach out and ask if they do not understand."

no-stupid-question and open-door policies

Chapter 4 - Check the Ego (Jocko Willink)

"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."

PART II - Laws of Combat

Chapter 5 - Cover and Move (Leif Babin)

"All elements within the greater team are crucial and must work together to accomplish the mission, mutually supporting one another for that singular purpose."

Chapter 6 - Simple (Jocko Willink)

"Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success. When plans and orders are too complicated, people may not understand them. [...] Plans and orders must be communicated in a manner that is simple, clear and concise. Everyone that is part of the mission must know and understand his or her role in the mission and what to do in the event of likely contingencies. As a leader, it doesn't matter how well you feel you have presented the information or communicated an order, plan, tactic, or strategy. If your team doesn't get it, you have not kept things simple and you have failed. You must brief to ensure the lowest common denominator on the team understands." It is also critical that all team members ask questions when they do not understand the mission or key tasks to be performed."

Chapter 7 - Prioritize and Execute (Leif Babin)

"Relax, look around, make a call."

"When overwhelmed, fall back upon this principle: Prioritize and Execute."

"Which one is your highest priority?"

Chapter 8 - Decentralized Command (Jocko Willink)

"Junior leaders must be empowered to make decisions on key tasks necessary to accomplish that mission in the most effective and efficient manner possible. Every tactical-level team leader must understand not just what to do but why they are doing it. If frontline leaders do not understand why, they must ask their boss to clarify the why. [...] Junior leaders must fully understand what is within their decision-making authority. [...] Additionally, they must communicate with senior leaders to recommend decisions outside their authority and pass critical information up the chain so the senior leadership can make informed strategic decision. Junior leaders must be proactive rather than reactive. [...] Tactical leaders must have implicit trust that their senior leaders will back their decision."

Reciprocal situational awareness

PART III - Sustaining Victory

Chapter 9 - Plan (Leif Babin)

"The mission must explain the overall purpose and desired result, or "end state", of the operation."

"The test for a successful brief is simple: Do the team and the supporting elements understand it?"

"post-operational debrief"

Chapter 10 - Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command (Leif Babin)

"Leaders must routinely communicate with their team members to help them understand their role in the overall mission."

"One of the most important jobs of any leader is to support your own boss - your immediate leadership."

"In an chain of command, the leadership must always present a unified front to the troops."

- "Take responsibility for leading everyone in your world, subordinates and superiors alike."

- "If someone isn't doing what you want or need them to do, look in the mirror first and determine what you can do to better enable this."

- "Don't ask your leader what you should do, tell them what you are going to do."

Chapter 11 - Decisiveness amid Uncertainty (Leif Babin)

"Leaders cannot be paralysed by fear. That results in inaction. It is critical for leaders to act decisively amid uncertainty; to make the best decisions they can based on only the immediate information available."

Chapter 12 - Discipline Equals Freedom - The Dichotomy of Leadership (Jocko Willink)