WCU ENT601 – Entrepreneurial Innovation. Week 2 Reflection.

I have chosen the book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win as my course book that I will utilize in my “Creativity-Innovation” Book Reflections for my WCU ENT601 class Entrepreneurial Innovation. I am excited as this book was of interest to me given that it was a New York Times Bestseller and the idea of learning and utilizing the leadership and innovative talents of the US Navy SEALS in business certainly will be of value to me.

              The book is co-authored by two Navy Seals Jocko Willink and Leif Babin who after their careers as Navy Seals co-founded a company called Echelon Front and began consulting businesses in all areas on leadership and teambuilding.  Willink and Babin were members of a specialized SEAL group called Task Unit Bruiser where they were deployed in Iraq during Operation Freedom.  Willink was Babins commanding officer and throughout the book they use discuss their experiences together and how the “Laws of Combat” and leadership techniques they teach today helped them succeed in real life battles during their deployments. 

              As the title of the book suggest, the core trait discussed is Extreme Ownership and it is highlighted as the most crucial attribute that an impactful leader can have.  Willink states that “of the many exceptional leaders that they served alongside the consistent attribute that made them great is absolute ownership, extreme ownership.  Not just of those things of which they were responsible, but everything that impacted their mission.”  He goes along to state “these leaders truly led.”  He explains further that Extreme Ownership is making no excuses, casting no blame, leveraging assets to achieve results, and taking responsibility for all results of the team even when its hard.  Ego is explained as an obstacle to a leader and most of the time the reason that extreme ownership is not taken and ultimately the reason a team fails.  A true leader must understand the dangers of ego and take the necessary steps to remove it so they can truly lead. 

              A few of the “Laws of Combat” mentioned early in the book are, 1) Relax, look around, make a call.  Placing yourself in the correct state of mind and emotions to correctly evaluate your environment and to understand what calls you can make.  2) Prioritize and execute.  This sounds easy but I think a log of us find this difficult as we try the juggle and multi-task so much.  Although there may be many competing issues, there are many that must take priority to make our mission a success.   3) Cover and move.  This is easily understood in the military world as providing cover fire so that the other person can move locations.  In business we can relate it to differing departments working together to achieve the greater good for the company.  4) Decentralize command.  Many times, to find success you will have to make real-time, quick decisions.  You and your team must not only be empowered but trained as leaders to make such a call.  The team will need to function with contribution and buy-in at all levels and they will do so with much more magnitude if they have personal input and ownership in the mission.   

              Willink and Babin both use personal battlefield testaments to explain the importance of Extreme Ownership and the “Laws of War”.  WIllink tells of a “blue on blue” or friendly fire incident involving his Seals Team and how when assessing what went wrong and who was to blame, it was the toughest decision for him to place himself at fault and assume absolute ownership for the failure.  Babin examples a situation he found himself in during a mission where he utilizes all of what he describes as the “laws of war” to get out of the situation and overcome an outnumbered enemy with just himself and one other soldier. 

              The book is going to be interested to relate to business and I expect that it tests and will dispel what we believe to be truths in succeeding.  I think we all believe that we have ownership in our daily lives but even during my initial reading I am finding out that we may not have Extreme Ownership.  Me especially. 

References:

Willink, J., & Babin, L. (2017). Extreme ownership: How US Navy SEALs lead and win: St. Martin’s Press.

8 thoughts on “WCU ENT601 – Entrepreneurial Innovation. Week 2 Reflection.

  1. Hi Jeramy,
    Your post is of great interest to me as I am intrigued by Navy SEALS and would enjoy reading this book myself. Thank you for providing such a thorough synopsis of your early findings, particularly around the concept of Extreme Ownership and relating the “Laws of Combat” to business practice.
    The term “extreme ownership”, without context, gives me the impression of a negative connotation. It brings to mind visuals of tyrannical or autocratic behavior normally attached to a despot, or in the business world, an unreasonable or obsessive leader. But for SEALS, the extreme ownership is really the obsession to be a great leader, which comes through “making no excuses, casting no blame.” To me, that ability comes by walking the fine line between confidence and ego – great leaders are confident not only in their decision but the decision-making process so that if things DO go wrong, they take responsibility.
    When it comes to the Laws of Combat, I was particularly interested in “Relax, look around, make a call” and “Decentralize Command”. In my experience, these are two areas that are real barriers to great leadership. “Relax” – frame of mind is so critical to balanced decision-making and yet, for a whole variety of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with the “job”, leaders will make decisions without a clear and “relaxed” state of mind. I’ve also seen many leaders who simply can’t “make a call”. They are paralyzed by the actual act of making a decision and instead, allow time to make their decisions for them. Unsurprisingly, this is rarely a winning strategy.
    My favorite concept you mention is to “decentralize command”. From my vantage point, all great leaders share the ability to build autonomy within their team, providing ownership and an element of leadership to each member of the organization. Of course, it’s our “friend” ego that often gets in the way here as leaders feel it is they alone who can make decisions within the course of a day. Conversely, great leaders build teams where everyone has a hand in deciding the outcome, and regardless of how things turn, their “extreme ownership” will guide them to own the result.

    Like

  2. The “Laws of Combat” applied to business leadership and operations are very applicable. It is rare to find all of those traits in a leader or any individual in general. I could muse as to why this is, but I have never been in the military, so I would be speaking about something I have no reference for. In my experience, organizations wholistically stumble when they don’t “cover and move.” The silo’s, either purposefully or unintentionally created, can spell disaster. In my profession, if silos exist and we aren’t partnering extensively with other departments, we will unequivocally fail. I think individually, people have the most challenging time with decentralized command. Either the leader will not give up that level of control, which causes inefficiencies, or the employees don’t want that responsibility, which hinders production.

    Like

  3. Jeramy,

    Thanks for an insiteful post! I was interseted in this book as well, so I am excited to follow along with you. There were a few things that I highlighted from your post that I loved and could apply to my own career.

    “Extreme Ownership is making no excuses, casting no blame, leveraging assets to achieve results, and taking responsibility for all results of the team even when its hard.”

    In my own experiences with leaders I have always been drawn to and respected the leaders that have done the above, and I don’t think it is a light or easy task. I have had leaders that have been one to very quickly cast the blame and wanted to consistently get the heat of their own back. What this really does though is show who they are answering to (their leaders), that they are not effectively leading their team. It also shows their employees that they do not have a leader that will help them reach their goals as a team, nor one that will stand up for them if needed. This is one of the largest contrasts between my previous leader and the leader I have now, and it makes all the difference as a member of the team. I always know that my leader will help make decisions when needed but he will also trust that the decision was made correctly (with the information given) and will always give the opportunity to explain the situation. In my experience, this has been invaluable.

    I also appreciated the “Prioritize and execute” law of combat and felt that this was applicable to other fields as well. On thing I greatly lean on my leader to do is help prioritize projects and his strength is to see the larger picture with other moving chess pieces and help direct and focus on what is best for the practice. When requests are coming from different angles and they are all deemed as “critical” by whoever is presenting them it can be difficult to sort through and prioritize. A successful leader excels at this skill and can lead the entire ship by leading the crew.

    Thanks,
    Caitlin Stills

    Like

  4. Jeramy,
    I really like this summary. I agree with the book. As a business owner, I have to make the call. Sometime the decisions I make are not easy. I like the way the book talks about being in the right frame of mind. It does matter. These last few weeks of adjustment and prioritizing have had me in an odd state of mind. Definitely not a state for making decisions. This week I have spent prioritizing. I teach so I have had to prioritize teaching, learning, running a business, and getting the end of year paperwork completed. Feeling behind is a stressful thing. Working together as a team is crucial. It doesn’t matter if you are a teacher working with your department, a store owner working with your employees and vendors, or a mother organizing her week. We have to work as a team. If you do not empower those you work with, your objectives will not be met. One of my weakest points is the ability to delegate. I am one to fly in a do what needs to be done. I am learning that there is always someone that you help do what you need done. I have read that empowering an employee is worth more that money. This class is teaching me that listening to ideas and giving my employees more empowerment will make my business better. Thank you for the great summary.
    Tina Jones

    Like

  5. Jeramy,

    This was a very interesting read and I am looking forward to reading more and trying to apply it to my life or business. I compare ownership to being responsible and taking accountability.

    “A true leader must understand the dangers of ego and take the necessary steps to remove it so they can truly lead.”

    I agree with the above statement, in a job that I previously had, I believe that if the leader or management does not take the time to evaluate their ego and pushy behavior will lead to the downfall of the business.

    Like

    1. Jeramy,

      This is very interesting. I believe one of the hardest things to do is not place blame when a problem arises. In our everyday life there is a constant search to see who messed up or caused the problem. As you stated in your blog, I believe that ego is a major obstacle to success. Ego alone can prohibit a person from accepting responsibility which leads to division. division in a business will eventually lead to its destruction.

      I found the ideology in this blog to be very refreshing. I look forward to reading more of your weekly blogs.

      Best,
      Shannon

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was also interested in reading this book, so I look forward to your posts. The idea of being a leader that consistently goes “above and beyond” can become a daunting task. When people begin to expect that amount of effort, if you begin to do just the average, others think you are no longer trying. In my current position, I face this struggle every day. I feel like the constant battle to put in 200% is, overall, worth it; but it can become hard some days and I am always searching for new tactics to combat this.

    Like

  7. Hi Jeramy!

    This seems like a very interesting read. I remember one of my old bosses said “at the end of the day, everything that happens here is my fault” after several of his employees quit at once. I think that he had that trait of extreme ownership and I am not sure I really understood the value of it until I read your post so I thank you for your perspective.

    I also really appreciated rule 1 of the 5 rules of combat “relax, look around and make a call.” It is so true that we need to examine our mindset before making really big life choices. If we make decisions out of scarcity or fear, we may not make the most informed and educated decision…the second part of rule 5 is to “look around” which is also very important, how can one make a solid call without being aware and informed of his or her surroundings? I often find it hard for me to actually make the call which can indeed trip a lot of people up…so many of us never bite the bullet for one reason or another and I love that they included it as a part of their process.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: