Extreme Ownership

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
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As the leader, you're always responsible. If your team is not committed or if you don't accomplish the mission, you have to own those failures. An interesting book that's well worth the read.

Winning The War Within

Extreme Ownership

On any team, in any organisation, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her 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.

You must remove individual ego and personal agenda. It’s all about the mission. How can you best get your team to most effectively execute the plan in order to accomplish the mission?

No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders

Whether a team succeeds or fails is all up to the leader. The leader’s attitude sets the tone for the entire team.

Leaders must accept total responsibility, own problems that inhibit performance, and develop solutions to those problems.


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

If you don’t understand or believe in the decisions coming down from your leadership, it is up to you to ask questions until you understand how and why those decisions are being made.

Check the Ego

Ego drives the most successful people in life—in the SEAL Teams, in the military, in the business world. They want to win, to be the best. That is good. But when ego clouds our judgment and prevents us from seeing the world as it is, then ego becomes destructive.

We can’t ever think we are too good to fail or that our enemies are not capable, deadly, and eager to exploit our weaknesses.

Laws of Combat

Cover and Move

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

Within our OP2 squad, we had four elements of smaller teams. One team covered, their weapons trained on threats, while the other team moved.


Combat, like anything in life, has inherent layers of complexities. Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success.

When things go wrong, and they inevitably do go wrong, complexity compounds issues that can spiral out of control into total disaster.

Prioritise and execute

Remain calm, step back from your immediate emotional reaction, and determine the greatest priority for the team. “Relax, look around, make a call.”

A leader who tries to take on too many problems simultaneously will likely fail at them all.

With so much going on in the chaos and mayhem, junior leaders on the battlefield would try to take on too many tasks at once. It never worked.

Decentralised Command

Every tactical-level team leader must understand not just what to do but why they are doing it.

Sometimes, the officer gets so far forward that he gets sucked into every room clearance, meaning he is continually entering rooms and engaging targets.

Contrary to a common misconception, leaders are not stuck in any particular position. Leaders must be free to move to where they are most needed, which changes throughout the course of an operation.

Sustaining Victory


A broad and ambiguous mission results in lack of focus, ineffective execution, and mission creep. To prevent this, the mission must be carefully refined and simplified so that it is explicitly clear and specifically focused to achieve the greater strategic vision for which that mission is a part.

Leaders must be comfortable accepting some level of risk.

"Those who will not risk cannot win.” — John Paul Jones

A post-operational debrief examines all phases of an operation from planning through execution, in a concise format. It addresses the following for the combat mission just completed: What went right? What went wrong? How can we adapt our tactics to make us even more effective and increase our advantage over the enemy?

Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command

Look beyond the immediate front-sight focus of the team and understand the bigger picture.

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.

Decisiveness Amid Uncertainty

There is no 100 percent right solution. The picture is never complete. Leaders must be comfortable with this and be able to make decisions promptly, then be ready to adjust those decisions quickly based on evolving situations and new information.

As a leader, you need to be seen as decisive, and willing to make tough choices. The outcome may be uncertain, but you have enough understanding and information to make a decision.

Discipline Equals Freedom

Our freedom to operate and manoeuvre had increased substantially through disciplined procedures. Discipline equals freedom.

By discipline, I mean an intrinsic self-discipline—a matter of personal will.

Leaders must never put their own drive for personal success ahead of overall mission success for the greater team.