After reading about Pirates, I decided to read a little something on leadership. The book I grabbed was Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. The book is by two SEALs that worked together in Iraq came back back to the U.S. and started their own Leadership consulting firm.
The key concept is willing to take ownership of not just the successes but also the failures. The key example is the commanding officer, Jacko Willink, “publicly” accepting a horrible failure of a mission, as the ultimate owner of the failure even though several others who made mistakes offered to take the blame. At the the end of the mission it was him not making sure everything was done right that caused the problem, and he owned knowing it could cost him his career.
There are were other things covered. Topics through the book included planning. Keeping the plans simple. Empowering the teams to be able to decentralize their command structure. Lead from the top down and the bottom up. Having disciplined Standard Operating Procedures, that allowed the team in the combat zone the freedom to adjust to the current situation.
The biggest take away though was one scene when Lief Babin was involved in Hell Week, part of SEALs training. The section was on “there are no bad teams, just bad leaders”. The SEALs leading HELL week as trainers showed this by swapping the leaders of the winning and losing race teams. The leading one brought the losing team up to challenge his old team every race after.
The trick was setting way points in the course, and pushing them to each one. Don’t worry about the course as a whole, just the next goal, and let that build to the end.
The other thing I liked about the book, it would show the concept of the chapter in the battle area, broken down in principle, and then finished in a business environment.
The authors at the end said there is nothing really new in the book, just a new way of looking at the concepts. I know I followed some of the concepts in the past, and I picked up a few new ones to go forward with.
One I’ve put in to practice already is the concept of way points. While that wasn’t the goal of no bad teams just bad leaders, it did stick out. I’ve put it in to practice with my classes. While there is still a lot to go, I just have to go from way point to way point, and not worry about the next way point until I get to the one I’m heading for now. I don’t have to worry about the Degree at the end of my current program. Just the last 2 classes before I get to the degree. Of those, I only have to worry about the current class I’m in. Id on’t have to worry about all 12 weeks. Just the week I’m in. And break that week down in to manageable segments.
It really has lifted some of the stress I was feeling.