15 “Extreme Ownership” Quotes from Jocko Willink

A few weeks ago I decided to pick up and read a book that I had previously read, Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. Jocko is a retired United States Navy SEAL, a SEAL that was awarded both a Silver Star and a Bronze Star for his efforts and leadership in the Iraqi War, who wrote the book to help teach people how to become the strongest leader they possible can become.

As anyone that has ever read the book would tell you, its is without a doubt one of the best books any leader in any organization can read that is chalked full of amazing content. Here are 15 (there could have been 50) noteworthy quotes from Jocko;

  1. The book derives it’s title from the underlying principle – the mind-set – that provides the foundation for all the rest: Extreme Ownership. Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.
  2. Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get it done.
  3. The leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything.
  4. If you allow the status quo to persist, you can’t expect to improve performance, and you can’t expect to win.
  5. When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission’s success, performance suffers and failure ensues.
  6. Extreme Ownership: There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.
  7. The goal of all leaders should be to work themselves out of a job. When mentored and coached properly, the junior leader can eventually replace the senior leader, allowing the senior leader to move on to the next level of leadership.
  8. Ego clouds and disrupts everything.
  9. A leader must lead, but also be ready to follow. They must be aggressive, but not overbearing. A leader must be calm, but not robotic. They must be confident, but never cocky. A leader must be brave, but not foolhardy. They must have competitive spirit, but be a gracious loser.
  10. When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable – if there are no consequences – that poor performance becomes the new standard. Therefore, leaders must enforce standards.
  11. There can be no leadership when there is no team.
  12. I had to take complete ownership of what went wrong. That is what a leader does – even if it means getting fired. If anyone was to be blamed and fired for what happened, let it be me.
  13. Leading people is the most challenging and, therefore, the most gratifying undertaking of all human endeavors.
  14. To implement real change, to drive people to accomplish something truly complex or difficult or dangerous – you can’t make people do these things. You have to lead them.
  15. If the frontline troops are unclear about the plan and yet are too intimidated to ask questions, the team’s ability to effectively execute the plan radically decreases.

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