It is not easy to find a truly good leadership book. Two of the best I have found bring lessons from the military: Lead like Ike, and Turn the Ship Around. Maybe it is because they deal with life-and-death situations, or maybe because there are clear missions with no ambiguity over who won and who lost.
Navy SEALs are some of the highest-performing military teams in the World. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin are retired Navy Seal officers who fought in Iraq. This posts covers 10 leadership lessons from their book, Extreme Ownership. The core idea is that leadership is based in clarity, trust and accountability.
I listened to the audio book version. In the last five years I have gone to maybe 200 audio books, most of which I probably would not have read otherwise. I don’t listen to music in my car anymore. It is one of the best investments I have made. I recommend you give Audible a try.
Here are the 10 Leadership Lessons from Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin:
1. Leaders Embrace Extreme Ownership
Extreme Ownership is the most important concept of this book, and it threads across the other lessons. It is a concept I have written about before in a post titled There are no Excuses, the Ball is in Your Court. And is one that we should apply to the business world. You can’t blame your products, your boss, your budget, the economy, competitors or your team for your success or failure. You are accountable for your success in your job, your career and your life.
A true leader owns the outcome. When things go wrong, you have to take ownership. No excuses.
“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.” Continue reading “Extreme Ownership – Leadership Lessons from the SEAL Team”
In most organizations, high performance individuals are promoted to managers, ignoring the fact that a great individual contributor is not necessarily going to become a great manager. But if even if they could become one, it is rare for newly promoted managers to get people management training. In this post I share my management philosophy, which I have been perfecting over the last few decades.
Manager or Leader? It is not the same.
The terms management and leadership are incorrectly used interchangeably. In essence they are very different concepts that require different skills. In fact, few people excel at both.
Leadership is about having a vision and the ability to rally people and resources to create a better future. Management is about sincerely caring for a team of people, empowering them, and making them productive and successful.
In my experience, the main reason why people want to become a leaders or a manager is a desire for career advancement and a higher salary. This is unfortunate, not because there is anything wrong with being career oriented, but because they are not being driven by the right motivation. Promotions and salary increases should not be goals, but consequences of effective execution, leadership, and a good people management track record. Continue reading “Flip the Org Chart – 5 Qualities of Great Managers”
You may have heard the question many times:
What is more important, Strategy or Tactics?
It’s a trick question. It assumes you can have without the other when in fact, the answer is that what is more important is the alignment between strategy and tactics:
Strategy should be based in your tactical ability to execute (which includes your core competency, as the thing you can execute on better than anyone else) and tactics should support the strategy
What is really important about this point of view is that it is not uncommon to find a disconnect between strategy an tactics in many companies:
- The strategy is unclear for the teams executing, or
- While the strategy is clear, how it should impact and guide tactical work for each member executing is unclear
- Strategies are developed in a vacuum by executives that are not connected to the front lines, or worse, by top-dollar consulting companies that bring junior MBAs to craft a strategy with no real context of the business
Part of the problem is that there are very few people who can span both: who can think strategically but can also guide (and roll up their sleeves) to execute. Employees who can bridge strategy and tactics can add incredible value to an organization, when employed properly.
How do you do that? The first step is to take a dose of reality, we need to be self-aware of how strategic we really are. Most marketers consider themselves strategic, but do we even know what that means? Here are some questions to help you assess your strategic ability:
- Do you understand the fundamental metrics of your company? Have you read the latest quarterly report and do you understand the fundamentals, and how marketing can influence the key metrics that influence shareholder value?
- Do you understand how your company generates profits, cash and customers?
- Do you understand the medium-term strategy for your competition? Have you reviewed their IR presentations?
- Do you understand your core competency as a company? What are the things your company is really good at and which ones you should avoid?
- Do you understand your customers, how they are evolving and how their needs and purchase behaviors are evolving over time? What is the gap between you and your customer expectations and what you deliver today?
- Have you modeled the market and competitive landscape, using tools like Porter’s five forces or a simple SWOT model? and, if you have done this consistently, have you been able to predict market evolution?
- Do you know exactly how your marketing tactics and the work you are doing today contribute to the long-term success of your company?
These questions are not perfect or comprehensive, they are a start.