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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Extreme ownership



Kirjoittanut: Jimi Iikkanen - tiimistä Kajo.

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Leadership skills are universal, no matter the situation or environment the principles are the same. Such is the core message of the book delivered by two former Navy SEAL soldiers who decided to turn their experience as military leaders into a business. Although ’Extreme ownership’ does include stories from the battlefield it is not a memoir as the authors remember to remind multiple times.

Name of the book sheds a light on important principle which great leaders must live up to. Before we delve any deeper I should point out that in this book leader is not only the person on top of the chain of command. Leader is anyone who has subordinates. Actually, the principles listed in the book apply even to self-leadership. Now back to explaining the principles.
Did you have enough time to think about what extreme ownership means? Firstly, it means leading down the chain of command. Most likely everyone is familiar with leading down the chain of command. It means that the leader leads his or her subordinates. Although everyone knows the idea of leading down the chain of command they might not know the idea of LEADING. This is where the extreme ownership comes into play.
Many leaders give orders to their subordinates, go through the results and then give feedback. That’s good, right? Surely, but that’s not what a great leader does. Great leaders own up to their position and realize that if the results are not good enough it’s on them, not the subordinates. Well, what if a subordinate is not following the protocol? That and other errors in the actions of subordinates lies on the lack of leadership.

There’s rarely a situation that the subordinate does not understand what he or she needs to do but instead, why is it needed. First thing a leader should do is to train the subordinates and guide them through the core values and principles. While doing so, should the leader emphasize the “why-aspect” of the training. Now, sometimes the reason for certain action might be due to complicated strategy which makes it difficult for the subordinate to grasp the idea. That’s why the processes should be simplified so everyone in the chain of command understands why a certain task must be done in a certain way. Now if an error occurs somewhere in the chain of command, the leader knows that it’s his or her fault due to subordinate not having enough concise information. So, is every error the leader’s fault? YES. But yet again this does not mean it’s a single person’s fault. Ultimately the blame is always on the top of chain of command if the leaders in other levels are underperforming. This is why it’s important to lead up the chain of command.

If the blame is on the leadership and so eventually on the top of the chain of command, what’s the purpose of the leaders in other levels? Not only are the leaders supposed to lead their subordinates (leading down the chain of command), in order to be a great leader, they should also lead up the chain of command. In a nutshell, leading up the chain of command means providing enough concise information up the chain of command so that leaders in higher levels can lead efficiently. If the leader does not have enough concise information of the situation he or she might have poor judgement and thus end up making a bad decision. If the leader wants to have enough concise information but the subordinates are not providing that, the process prolongs and the leader is unable to do his or her job efficiently. ­­­

According to the book a leader should be humble enough to know when to take the blame. Leader should always help his or her leaders to lead better and of course help his or her subordinates to the degree that they can execute the task as needed. The book has a lot more to offer but I find that these factors are the easiest, but not less important, to put in practice.

Without a doubt Proakatemia is filled with projects where all the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the project manager. Many times, it’s because project manager is trying to be the perfect puppet master which leaves no room for other members of the project to actually help the project manager. In this situation it’s easy to say that the project manager should be humble enough to take the blame for whatever happens, since he or she was trying to control everything. The other members of the project should be proactive about the tasks they could do to ease project managers bourdon. Lastly, the project manager should be able to share some of the responsibilities with other members and make them understand the “why-aspect” of these tasks.

There are no companies, project teams or any other teams that are baseline doomed. The leaders and by their actions everyone in the team just need to execute extreme ownership. Since you’re already this far, go read or listen ‘Extreme ownership’ and own up!

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