extreme ownership

extreme ownership



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.

The best leaders don’t just take responsibility for their job. They take

Extreme Ownership of everything that impacts their mission. This fundamental

core concept enables SEAL leaders to lead high-performing teams in

extraordinary circumstances and win. But Extreme Ownership isn’t a principle

whose application is limited to the battlefield. This concept is the number-one

characteristic of any high-performance winning team, in any military unit,

organization, sports team or business team in any industry.

When subordinates aren’t doing what they should, leaders that exercise

Extreme Ownership cannot blame the subordinates. They must first look in the

mirror at themselves. The leader bears full responsibility for explaining the

strategic mission, developing the tactics, and securing the training and resources

to enable the team to properly and successfully execute.

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. But if the

underperformer continually fails to meet standards, then a leader who exercises

Extreme Ownership must be loyal to the team and the mission above any

individual. If underperformers cannot improve, the leader must make the tough

call to terminate them and hire others who can get the job done. It is all on the


As individuals, we often attribute the success of others to luck or

circumstances and make excuses for our own failures and the failures of our

team. We blame our own poor performance on bad luck, circumstances beyond

our control, or poorly performing subordinates—anyone but ourselves. Total

responsibility for failure is a difficult thing to accept, and taking ownership when

things go wrong requires extraordinary humility and courage. But doing just that

is an absolute necessity to learning, growing as a leader, and improving a team’s


Extreme Ownership requires leaders to look at an organization’s problems

through the objective lens of reality, without emotional attachments to agendas

or plans. It mandates that a leader set ego aside, accept responsibility for failures,

attack weaknesses, and consistently work to a build a better and more effective

team. Such a leader, however, does not take credit for his or her team’s successes

but bestows that honor upon his subordinate leaders and team members. When a

leader sets such an example and expects this from junior leaders within the team,

the mind-set develops into the team’s culture at every level. With Extreme

Ownership, junior leaders take charge of their smaller teams and their piece of

the mission. Efficiency and effectiveness increase exponentially and a highperformance,

winning team is the result.