Headshot of a smiling man next to a book he reviewed
Jocko Willink and Leif Babin are two former Navy SEALs who served together during the war in Iraq. After months of difficult combat, the SEAL team successfully completed its mission of securing Ramadi. During the fight, the pair learned that leadership at every level determines whether a team succeeds or fails. In their book, “Extreme Ownership,” published by St. Martin’s Press, Willink and Babin translate their battlefield experiences into leadership lessons applicable for both business and life.

“Extreme Ownership” is a great leadership book written by two former Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. While serving as Navy SEAL officers in Ramadi, Iraq, Willink and Babin learned basic principles on leadership from real-world battlefield experiences. They then became Navy SEAL instructors and taught these leadership lessons to other Navy SEALs. Today, Willink and Babin own their own leadership consulting business that teaches companies how to execute and perform at the highest level. 

This book was chosen for my church’s growth group on leadership. The principles come from military perspective, but are fundamental in personal, spiritual and professional leadership development. The book is concise and very easy to read. Each chapter is broken down into three segments, a battlefield experience, a principle to be learned, and how that principle applies to business. The application to business uses real-world examples of companies they’ve worked with and the obstacles that they overcame. 

The overarching theme of the book is the title — “Extreme Ownership.” Willink and Babin preach that great leaders have to take ownership in every situation and not blame others for failures or mistakes. In order to lead and motivate coworkers and subordinates, a leader must own every decision, believe in the cause, and lead by example. Becoming a better leader is something that takes time and intentionality.

The book is broken down into three parts. The first is about “Winning the War Within,” which discusses the four key elements to being a great leader: extreme ownership; no bad teams, only bad leaders; believe; and check the ego. The next section of the book is on “The Laws of Combat,” which includes concepts like: cover and move; simple; prioritize and execute; and decentralized command. Lastly, Willink and Babin discuss how to sustain victory. The layout of the book makes it very easy to understand at a basic level.

I enjoyed reading this book and came away with an emphasis on how important it is to take ownership and not make excuses for anything in life or business. I’m working on instilling these basic principles and concepts for myself, as well as my organization. Ownership is important from frontline workers all the way up to the CEO and owner. All must take accountability and ownership over their actions and decisions. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who has any type of leadership role, whether that’s the head of the household, head of a department or simply personal development.

Matthew Teribery

Business Development Director 

B&T Contractors, Inc.

Bradford, Pennsylvania