Book: Extreme Ownership
Authors: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Quote: “A true leader is never intimidated when others step up and take charge.”

This is the first blog of my new Book Highlights Series. In this series, I will be going back through many of the books I have read in the past few years and reflecting on the thoughts and ideas that I have highlighted. My first quote comes from Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s Extreme Ownership. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it to everyone. It doesn’t matter where you are in your life, or whether or not you hold a special title or position. Extreme Ownership is a book for everyone. I will probably be referencing the highlights from this book multiple times in this series, as there are so many great reminders. So, without further ado, let’s get this started.

Intimidation is something many people struggle with. Whenever someone with more confidence or more self assurance steps up within a team, there seems to be this awkward moment between the team and leadership. Leadership has two options, take a step forward, assert dominance, and take control, or take a step back, be willing to listen, and allow this team member to step up and take charge. For many leaders, it is difficult to allow others within their team to lead. However, I believe it is the responsibility of the leader to train up team members to lead alongside them. Being intimidated by confident team members is a downfall of leadership, and it will ultimately cost the company/organization, as people will be stifled and not allowed to explore their strengths and ideas. 

We need to learn to humble ourselves and allow others the opportunity to lead. This is difficult for those of us with “A type” personalities. Relinquishing control can be difficult, but when we want to force control, or keep the control to ourselves, we might possibly miss out on potential opportunities and hinder the progress of our team, our company/organization, and most of all, ourselves. Being intimidated is a sign of insecurities, and insecurities can manipulate us into making irrational decisions. As leaders, these irrational decisions can be our downfall and hinder progress for ourselves and our team.

We must never forget that the primary job of any leader is to bring up future leaders to one day take our place. This means we must learn to let go of control and allow others the opportunity to rise to the occasion. The health and maturity of our team is strengthened by giving members within our team the opportunity to take charge. However, it is the leader’s responsibility to praise their team when things go right, and take ownership when things go wrong. If the team member that stepped up to the challenge falls flat on their face, it is because leadership failed them. 

We as leaders need to become less “sage on the stage” and more “guide on the side.” We need to be attentive, but not controlling. We need to be engaged, but not overbearing. There is a special balance that leaders must maintain when leading. Jocko and Leif call this the Dichotomy of Leadership – this is the book that follows Extreme Ownership. We need to learn to let go of control and allow members of our team to take charge.

Remember, leadership is not about you. It’s about those you lead. Don’t be intimidated when people in your team want to step up to take on leadership roles. If individuals in your team want to take charge, let them. If they make mistakes, guide them. Help them become the best leaders they can be by letting go of control and letting them step up to the challenges.

As always, stay humble and serve well!

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