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Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win

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Overconfidence was risky in such a hostile environment, a mistake most often made by warriors who had never truly been tested. Willink explains that although the main leader will understand the big picture and understand all of the ins and outs of the task at hand, it is not entirely necessary that the junior members have all of the same knowledge. I realized that if my chain of command had questions about my plans or needed additional information or more detailed paperwork, it was not their fault,” I said. Without finger-pointing or making excuses, the manager must personally ensure the next social post doesn’t flop. Ask questions until you understand why so you can believe in what you are doing and you can pass that information down the chain to your team with confidence, so they can get out and execute the mission.

Take John Elway’s arm, Dan Marino’s release, maybe Troy Aikman’s drop-back, Brett Favre’s scrambling ability, Joe Montana’s two-minute poise and, naturally, my speed. In the mayhem, they hadn’t reported their exact location, but I knew it would be close to the point where I was standing, close to the building the Marine gunny had just pointed to. I want to practice to the point where it’s almost uncomfortable how fast you shoot, so that in the game things kind of slow down. Not just your team, but the whole team; the entire corporation — all departments within your company, all subsidiary companies under the corporation, outside contractors, the whole enterprise. It is more important that the junior leaders are allowed to make decisions — and backed up even if they don’t make them correctly.But at the end of the day, it’s all about winning and what you can do to help your team get to that point. I had to find the right balance between taking all ownership myself and allowing my team to take ownership. Only a few hours into the operation, both of my SEAL sniper elements had been attacked and were now embroiled in serious gunfights. A day passed as I waited for the arrival of the investigating officer, our CO, and command master chief (CMC), the senior enlisted SEAL at the command.

They see Extreme Ownership in their leaders, and, as a result, they emulate Extreme Ownership throughout the chain of command down to the most junior personnel. And when things go wrong, and they inevitably do go wrong, complexity compounds issues that can spiral out of control into total disaster. Willink realizes that the battlefield is the only practical place to train Iraqi troops, and he comes to believe in that approach.

In this situation, Willink explains that it is the leader’s responsibility to dedicate time to mentoring and training them with the aim of getting them up to scratch. The dichotomy in this situation is balancing between taking care of individuals by keeping them around even if they lack the skill set to do the job properly and protecting the team by removing people from positions where they negatively impact the team and the mission. But, if you put your own ego in check, meaning you take the blame, that will allow him to actually see the problem without his vision clouded by ego. Tough as nails and ready for more, he stayed with me, unfazed by what had happened and ready for whatever came next. If leaders humbly accept complete responsibility for the outcome of their projects, prepare thoroughly for any eventualities, and encourage team members to take leadership of their parts of a mission, the odds of success skyrocket.

caliber machine gun rounds punching through the walls around them, they had stared death in the face and did not think they would survive. If an individual on the team is not performing at the level required for the team to succeed, the leader must train and mentor that underperformer. The overall leaders belief, attitude, drive, and standards will either engender ownership within the ranks and lead to success, or not. When confronted with the enormity of operational plans and the intricate microterrain within those plans, it becomes easy to get lost in the details, to become sidetracked or lose focus on the bigger effort.Any good leader is immersed in the planning and execution of tasks, projects, and operations to move the team toward a strategic goal.

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