To lead is to serve… Own it…

“On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.”

Jocko Willink

“Extreme Ownership” has become one of my favorite leadership books of late because it does such an exceptional job of capturing and conveying one of the most foundational principles of leadership. If your first reaction is to point a finger anywhere other than yourself you are not a leader, you have surrendered those rights.

Conversely, if you are the first to take the credit and seek glory when there is a win, you are also not a leader. The team creates wins.

So, the essence is when it doesn’t go well, it is your fault. When it goes right, the team gets the glory. This is leadership…

No more sabre toothed tigers…

“One of the key qualities a leader must possess is the ability to detach from the chaos, mayhem, and emotions in a situation and make good, clear decisions based on what is actually happening.”

Jocko Willink

The more emotionally engaged one is with a given situation or challenge, the less data-driven and pragmatic you are likely to be. Case in point, there is a lot going on the world right now, and the impact and severity on the lives of others shouldn’t be minimized. However, making decisions based on an emotional response such as fear are far less likely to be well reasoned and rational than those decisions that are rooted in constructive and logical thinking practices.

When the “monkey mind” takes over, and emotions and chaos reign supreme, do what generations of successful leaders have preached across the centuries.

Pause. Breathe. Think.

There is nothing better than a deep breath and a moment of pause to help bring things into focus. If you don’t, then you are letting the reptilian portion of your brain rule your world. That might have worked in the age of sabre toothed tigers, but it doesn’t serve us well in most situations today…

Expectations vs. Recommendations.

“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.”

Jocko Willink

I have long held to a simple yet effective three step formula of leadership responsibility and accountability.  

  1. Set clear expectations
  2. Coach, Train, Provide Feedback to those expectations
  3. Hold accountable to the expectations

It is the leaders responsibility to ensure that his or her  team understands what is expected of them, that the proper coaching and training has occurred, and then that absolute accountability to those expectations has been enforced.  

Without enforcement then any expectations are merely recommendations, coaching and training is a waste of time, and accountability doesn’t mean anything…  

Like nails on a chalkboard…

“If you allow the status quo to persist, you can’t expect to improve performance, and you can’t expect to win.”

Jocko Willink

“The way it has always been done…” these words are a death knell for  change.  Hearing that as a reason not to do something is like the proverbial ‘nails on a chalkboard’ (if anyone even know what that means anymore), it just makes my skin crawl. 

The status quo represents the way things have always been. That will never lead to necessary growth and change.   I much prefer an attitude of “relentless discontent with the status quo.”

That is the only way you can create change and win…

 

 

Own it…

 

“Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get things done.”

Jocko Willink

A very wise person once told me, “there is only one way to point a finger.  You extend your hand, point your finger out, and then you turn your hand around and point it at yourself.  If you are going to point a finger at someone that is the only acceptable way to do it.”  

Successful leaders must have this trait of personal ownership and discipline.  If they don’t, they will not achieve the level of impact that God created within them.  The gifts that you have been given will be unrealized.  The opportunity to serve and give to others through the influence of your leadership will be diminished.  

We all have hundreds of opportunities to demonstrate this type of leadership every single day.  It starts with personal accountability and discipline.  If you expect something.  Do it.  Don’t whine about it.  Don’t complain.  Don’t say, “that’s not my job.”  No one cares to hear that.  No one wants to be around that person.  You don’t want to be around that person.

Will you fail at this?  Yes.  I fail daily.  But failure is an opportunity to learn, to get better, to pick yourself up and do it harder, faster, with more vigor the next time.   Over,  Under.  Around or through.  Whatever it takes to get the job done.  That is the attitude that a person with extreme ownership embodies.  There are no excuses.   

If you haven’t read Extreme Ownership  by Jocko Willink then you owe it to yourself to find a way to add it to the top of your reading queue.  As the title suggests it is all about ownership and accountability.  You are responsible and accountable.  No one else is.  Period.  End of story.  

 

selective focus photo of man s index finger
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com
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