Extreme Ownership is probably the most fun leadership and management book I’ve read. Based on lessons learned from leading Task Force Bruiser, the same unit Chris Kyle of American Sniper was in, through the Battle of Ramadi, authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin break down how to use their concept of “Extreme Ownership” to lead more effectively.
If you’re interested in war stories from the events described in Hunting in the Shadows, leadership principles, and/or how to apply those leadership lessons to business situations that this is the book for you. Willink and Babin do an excellent job of striking a balance between all three and keeping the reader entertained while also expounding on leadership principles and applications. Plus, at ~280 pages, it’s a short enough read that anyone can read it and learn from it. Check it out!
Summary of Extreme Ownership
Although it’s similar to Ray Dalio’s Principles in concept, Extreme Ownership is far different in practice. Whereas Dalio writes at length about each topic, Willink and Babin keep their writings entertaining and concise. The lessons learned in both are quite helpful, but Extreme Ownership is certainly far more fun to read.
As I alluded to in the introduction, each chapter of Extreme Ownership is broken into three parts. The first section is about a lesson either Willink or Babin learned while leading Navy SEALs in Iraq. Then, they distill that lesson into a short summary of that principle. Finally, they show how to apply the leadership lesson to the business world by discussing how they taught it to management teams that hired their leadership consulting firm. It’s an innovative way to teach about leadership that, because of how well the stories tie together, works quite well.
The entirety of Extreme Ownership is broken into three sections: “Winning the War Within,” “Laws of Combat,” and “Sustaining Victory.” Each of those sections contains a few chapters that further break down the leadership principle, and although all of them could stand alone, they work quite well together.
Finally, throughout Extreme Ownership, Willink and Babin work to teach the reader what their idea of extreme ownership is. Basically, it’s the idea that if you’re a leader, you’re the one responsible when your subordinates mess up. Even if it seems like its actually one of their faults, it’s actually yours for not properly leading and you need to take responsibility. That might sound extreme, but, well, that’s the title of the book. It’s certainly an interesting subject and one that I think would make leaders in the business and politics world far more respected and effective.
Analysis of Extreme Ownership
I thought Extreme Ownership was excellent. Every leadership principle, military story, and business-world story tied in well as a unit and with the other chapters. That continuity of thought and flow between military and civilian life made the book far better than one simply based on leadership consulting or the Battle of Ramadi would have been.
Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the tie ins between military and civilian leadership show how the principles Willink and Babin chose are, in fact, universally applicable.
I was skeptical that that would be the case when I first started the book. I respect their service, but, frankly, I don’t think every military experience is relevant to leading a team of 9-5 workers.
However, my doubts were quickly assuaged once I started reading Extreme Ownership. The authors certainly did their homework and chose principles, that are, in fact, applicable for military personnel and civilians. That foresight and obviously intelligent, well-thought-out writing made me respect them all the more.
Ultimately, I viewed Extreme Ownership as a cross between Make Your Bed by Admiral McRaven and Principles by Ray Dalio. Like Principles, it contains a number of principles about how to lead more effectively. And, like Make Your Bed, it uses battle stories to do so. But, in my view, it is far better than both of those. It is more concise, entertaining, and structured than Principles and it is far less holier than thou, military-centric than Make Your Bed. Yes, they discuss their military service, but it’s not their end all be all. Willink and Babin have a far more well-rounded perspective.
If you want to be a more effective leader, then Extreme Ownership is a book you need to read. It won’t take too long, contains many valuable lessons, and is an entertaining read. If you have time, check it out!
By: Gen Z Conservative