Extreme Ownership

Posted by Douglas Drumond Kayama on January 12, 2022 · 1 min read

When I first got a leadership role, I asked a friend for tips to learn and do my job better. He referred me to a book, Extreme Ownership, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

The book’s main idea is to take ownership of everything you do (or don’t do), especially for a leader. If a team fails, the leader should step up and assume the failure instead of blaming the team.

But this idea is relevant for individual contributors too. Instead of blaming others, look at what you could have done better to prevent the situation. Instead of “the budget approved by C-level wasn’t reasonable”, think of “what can I do with this budget and how can I bring visibility of possible shortcomings?” Instead of “the tasks are not well described”, think of “what questions can I ask to clarify the requirements?”

And when a problem arises, do not point fingers. Assume the failure, learn from it and create an action plan to do better next time.

Extreme ownership is not an excuse to be dumb, though. If you’re innocent, don’t take the blame for something illegal. Those infringing the law must face the consequences, not you.

Next time you face an issue, instead of pointing fingers, try this exercise: ask yourself, “what could I have done to prevent this?” And act on the conclusion. You’ll notice that, after a while, you’ll earn more trust from your team, peers and leaders.

Photo by Specna Arms on Unsplash