I first heard about Jocko from Tim Ferriss's podcast episode with him. I just finished reading his first book and really liked it: Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink.
In some ways it reminded me of No Easy Day by Mark Owen, which I had read a while ago, also about lessons learned by a Navy SEAL, though Jocko's is much more about the application of the lessons to leadership in general and business.
The book was well written and had lots of great examples of its ideas, both on the combat side and the business side. Many of his ideas resonated a lot with me: extreme ownership, admitting blame, and taking responsibility for everything that happens in your world/department/group, and how that attitude trickles down and up around you to affect everyone. I see counterexamples of this all the time, and I like Jocko's no-excuses approach to this.
The example from the intro really hit home with me: swapping the leaders of the best and worst performing teams in a competition completely reversed their performance. Leadership matters.
I also never knew there was so much process, paperwork, and PowerPoint in the military. And I see how that illustrates his idea of "leading up" the chain of command and how discipline around process creates freedom.
This was a really great book and very inspiring. I definitely look forward to checking out his other books.
My main notes and takeaways are below.
All about teams
Intro: combat leaders dilemma
Part 1; leading the war within
1 extreme ownership
Leader in the end responsible for anything and everything
At each level this mindset trickles down across organization
Can’t blame others
Credit given to subordinates
Can never blame others when things go wrong
Accept blame and see what you can do better for all aspects
2 no bad teams, only bad leaders
Swapping leaders of Best and worst teams swaps performance
Winning attitude, constant search for improvement. Believe winning is possible.
To convince others, leader must be true believer in the mission
Ask questions up the chain to understand why and then explain to those lower than you why
Make it clear to subordinates they should ask you questions
4 check the ego
Giving feedback about someone else’s mistake: say you were wrong in not explaining clearly and now need to explain so other’s mistake doesn’t happen again
Part 2 laws of combat
5 cover, move
One team covers, the other moves
Communicate and work together between teams
Overall mission is the priority
Form relationships with others and see how you can help them and have them help you
Work together with subsidiary companies
Complexity compounds issue
Communicate orders clearly and concisely
7 prioritize and execute
Relax, look around, and make the call
One thing at a time
Communicate the priority
8 decentralize command
Small teams of 4-6
People can’t manage more than 6 or so people
Need clear chain of command so all know who’s in charge
Part 3 sustaining victory
Be clear on mission
Plan for all contingencies
Detailed mission briefs and operation orders
Disciplined planning procedures
10 leading up and down chain of command
Explain strategic impact of operations to troops
Explain how lower level troop’s role contributes to overall success
Push understanding up to leaders above you so they know your situation
Invite senior execs out into field for you
11 decisiveness amid uncertainty
Be comfortable with decisions in chaos
Don’t just wait and see
12 discipline equals freedom
Discipline to get out of bed when alarm goes ok
Only way to make time is to wake up early
Discipline around standard operating procedures
Discipline is the pathway to freedom
Calm but not robotic
One person not more important than mission