Extreme Ownership

How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

This week’s book review is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

Willink and Babin have earned their leadership stripes in some of the toughest environments known to mankind – as SEAL team leaders under combat conditions in Ramadi, Iraq. These guys definitely have what it takes and know what true leadership is all about. After leaving active service Willink and Babin started their own business consultancy called Echelon Front where they apply their leadership expertise into the business world. Extreme Ownership summarizes their leadership experience and knowledge and how it can be applied to the business world.

My takeaway from this book is the 12 Leadership Principles summarized briefly below:

  1. Extreme Ownership – All responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader regardless of the size or type of organization being led.
  2. There Are No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders – A bad team can always be turned around by good leadership.
  3. Believe – A leader must understand and believe in the mission.
  4. Ego – Uncontrolled egos can cloud and disrupt all aspect of an organization.
  5. Cover and Move – Teamwork makes the dream work!
  6. Simple – Remove unnecessary complexity out of everything.
  7. Prioritize and Execute – Determine the highest priority task and execute. Don’t be paralyzed by indecision.
  8. Decentralized Command – A leader should not have more than 6 to 10 people reporting to them directly. Any more than this, the leader loses focus and effectiveness.
  9. What’s the Mission – Leaders must absolutely understand the mission. They must then clearly communicate this to the rest of their team.
  10. Leading Up and Down the Chain – A leader’s job includes leading down in their organization to their reports, sideways with their peers and upwards with those they report to.
  11. Decisiveness Amid Uncertainty – A leader must be decisive and be adaptable. Similar to Principle 8, a leader must prioritize and execute. They must be willing to adjust course when new data comes in.
  12. Discipline Equals Freedom – Disciplined behavior, processes, systems and application of tools results in greater degree of freedom.


Note that I have previously reviewed the following books in 2017:

  1. Les McKeown’s Predictable Success
  2. Exponential Organzations by Salim Ismail, Michael S. Malone and  Yuri van Geest
  3. Smart Thinking by Art Markman
  4. Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution
  5. RG LeTourneau’s Mover of Men and Mountains
  6. Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable
  7. Ram Charan’s The Attacker’s Advantage
  8. Jeff Goins’s The Art of Work
  9. Ron Karr’s Lead, Sell, or Get Out of the Way
  10. Timothy Ferriss’s Tools of Titans
  11. Dr. David Perlmutter’s Grain Brain
  12. Howard Schultz’z Onward
  13. Nicholas Eberstadt’s Men Without Work
  14. Jason Fried’s and David Heinemeier Hansson’s Remote
  15. VALVE Employee Handbook
  16. Dr. Mark Hyman’s The Ultramind Solution
  17. Jeff Goin’s Real Artists Don’t Starve
  18. The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law
  19. Dr. David Perlmutter’s Brain Maker
  20. Jesse Tevelow’s The Connection Algorithm
  21. Jesse Tevelow’s Hustle


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