“Relax. Look around. Make a call” (Jacko Willink). One of the first lessons in the book and three brief sentences that I have been echoing inside my head since I began reading Extreme Ownership. It all starts there, then prioritization and implantation begin. Willink also warns that trying to accomplish all your task at once will lead to failure. A lot of us have hyperactive minds, a good thing for multitasking but when we need to settle our minds for focused attention a little will must be applied. I have always thought of this as shifting gears in my head, just a like a manual gearshift in a car I must figure out which gear I need to be in for my current situation. So, sometimes for me is more of Relax, Look Around, get in the correct gear.” That goes for the call that we are looking to make as well.
The leader of the team is responsible for making sure that all team members clearly understand the mission and their role. If there is even the slightest misunderstanding, it could lead to a failure of the mission. Being in the correct frame of mind is imperative for a leader, their directions MUST be clear, and each member of the team MUST precisely understand what is expected of them individually. Any miscommunication or inflection of doubt from the leader can be catastrophic to the team. As a leader you must also explain the “why” and not just tell the subordinate their task. If you don’t know the “why” then you must ask for yourself. If your ego is in the way and you know understand the “why” then you may find yourself over “selling” the plan to the team and they will be able to recognize the difference. When you understand the why as a leader you will have more buy-in and so will your team members. Understanding the importance of your role will lead you to succeeding more. Willink states regarding a team, “they must believe in the cause for which they are fighting. They must believe in the plan they are asked to execute, and most important, they must believe in and trust the leader they are asked to follow.”
Plans and directions must be simple to both understand and follow. The simpler the plan the greater it is to understand as well as it is easier to communicate to your team. The greater the complication of the plan and the more difficult the steps the more likely it is to fail. It must be easy to follow as the teams are performing the plan. Plans hardly ever go as planned. Jacko states “If the plan is simple enough, everyone understands it, which means each person can rapidly adjust and modify what he or she is doing. If the plan is too complex, the team can’t make rapid adjustments to it, because there is no baseline understanding of it.” He also comments that “when something goes wrong (and it eventually does) complex plans add to confusion, which can compound into disaster. Almost no mission ever goes according to plan. There are simply too many variables to deal with.” I also contend that as the plan may have been too difficult to communicate, the leader may have lost the opportunity for “buy-in” from the teammate and they will call it quits during a botched assignment and not make the effort for a rebound.
We have all heard of the KISS principle or Keep It Simple Stupid. Ironically, this acronym was coined by the U.S. Navy as well. It is widely used in business today to remind us that more is typically achieved when we keep it simple. Willink and Babin continue to take the complications of leadership and simplify it into steps that we can implement in our daily lives.
“Leadership is simple, but not easy.” (Jacko Willink).