This blog was inspired by the book ‘Extreme Ownership - Leadership Lessons from the SEAL Team’. There were so many takeaways from this book for me and lessons that I carry with me daily in my actions as a leader.
As a business owner and an entrepreneur, in life and in business there are no excuses, the ball is always in your court and everything is a result of your actions. Even if not directly, it’s imperative we take responsibility for everything. If an employee makes a mistake, it’s my fault because I hired them, and I trained them, or I trained the person that trained them.
If there is a customer complaint it’s important that I take ownership for that, because whether directly or indirectly, if the problem happened in my business I caused it.
Does this sound stressful?
Well it is! But it’s okay because along with taking extreme ownership I also take extreme pride in my work, employees, and business.
Taking extreme ownership applies both in business and in life. 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.
This is a huge topic. What I know is that successful and strong leadership is contagious. It makes others want to act in accordance and lead by example. Leaders create a culture of accountability and teamwork. They transform people and their ability to get things done. They care about others and how they can bring them value.
Scientifically there are studied qualities of a good leader; honesty, ability to delegate, communication, sense of humour, positive attitude, courage, caring.
Of course this isn’t a mandatory or exhaustive list but it is through and with these qualities that someone who is in a leadership role can curate a great team atmosphere and drive business growth.
Here are 3 of the the extreme ownership take-aways I have learned along the way:
There is no business without a business plan. We have to be crystal clear on the mission, vision and short term and long term goals for our business. If the leader doesn’t know the direction the ship is going then there is no way the rest of the crew will be able to steer. Everyone on the team must understand not only what to do, but why.
It’s amazing to envision, and day dream and set huge goals but even more important to break them down into manageable action steps that will add up towards the end result you desire. What actions are required to get us to the next step? What does each person on the team need to do to make that happen?
If you don’t have a business plan start by writing down a few key items in detail
a. A mission statement - this describes the project or the company’s ‘why’ and the objectives for the why. What objective does the company aim to accomplish?
b. A vision - a statement which describes the future position of the company. This is where you can also list company values.
c. Short and Long term goals - list goals for the next quarter, the year, and a five year forecast then breakdown what mini goals or milestones the team can work towards on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to make those goals a reality.
A great leader displays humility and understands that the mission comes first. It’s important to detach our personal needs, beliefs and judgements from the mission and values of the company. This is something that always comes back to mind for me when hiring. I need to make sure I’m choosing someone who is a perfect fit for the team dynamic and the vision of the company and check in to make sure my personal like for them or bias isn’t clouding my judgement in hiring.
Secondly in the ego department, it’s important to take ownership for mistakes and learn how to change direction. If something doesn’t work out, instead of trying to push through or make excuses for why it didn’t, the leader must take responsibility, reflect on the mistakes and redirect accordingly.
This one is easier said than done for me. In the beginning of business I had a very hard time letting go of control. I knew if I did something it would be done ‘right’ or ‘up to my standards’ but the truth is there ARE people who can do things better than I can. I started by outsourcing things I absolutely could not do by myself, like graphic design. Once I realized how much of a time saver it is to pay an expert instead of spending hours learning it myself I found delegating to become a little bit addicting.
Jump the hurdle and trust your team to execute! When you are clear on what needs to be done and how it will be done, and you’ve communicated that vision to your team, trust that people are resourceful and capable.
When I delegate and something doesn’t go according to plan I quickly switch the mindset from frustrated to checking my ego and remember that I am responsible for any failures. What did I miscommunicate? What did I spare details on that I shouldn’t have?
Delegating can be a tricky balance but when you get the hang of it it’s so freeing, it stimulates business growth and allows you to create the business and team of your dreams.
These 3 steps are things took me a long time to realize and implement within my own teams of employees, but have all helped direct me in being a more effective leader and business owner.
If you want to learn more about extreme ownership, I highly recommend reading: Extreme Ownership – Leadership Lessons from the SEAL Team.
Giovanna Minenna is a Co-Founder of Simple Growth as well as the Founder of Brows by G and Browluxe. She has been recognized for her entrepreneurial accomplishments in national publications and with numerous awards. G has a passion for supporting young and first-time entrepreneurs.