My Tryst with Extreme Ownership

Manu KT
August 30, 2020

This blog title is inspired from the book Extreme Ownership: How U.S navy SEALS lead & Win written by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin. The reason to title this blog this way will be uncovered when you read through it and I am sure you will agree with me why I named this blog so. The book was an eye opener for me and gives every individual a lot of insights about how to lead and how not to lead a group of people and what does leadership mean at its core.

The best chapter of this book

“No bad teams, only bad leaders” initially made me to step back and think…really!! I wondered initially and found it to be true. I read through this chapter and thought about the things I, as a leader, do on a day-to-day, sprint-on-sprint basis and realised why and where my team went through problems and how I could have indeed helped my team to perform better.  This doesn’t need to be applicable to only leaders, every individual can apply the same under different scenarios and act accordingly.

healthy discussion at work

OK, enough of me promoting this book but in fact it’s WORTH reading.  Mark my words. It gives you a great detail about what soldiers go through on WAR field and the author who himself is leading a troop, tells how he handles the situation and analyses.  He also draws analogy to different industry verticals to give his tryst of where leadership fails and how it can succeed.


The first mantra I was taught by my manager when I started my career was “ownership”.  He didn’t command me this principle rather demonstrated it by actually owning up things. He was into managing multiple projects and yet he never bickered to help out his team. Used to stay late, identify and analyse the scenarios with the team, listen & consider the team’s views and then help them to take the right steps.

One of the instances I can recollect any day is that we had a Demo at a client location and my manager had to catch a flight early 4 am in the morning. We had few issues in the beta-product yet to get resolved. He sat the entire day and night till 12 am with us resolving issues. Once he got confidence that we could handle it, he went straight home picked up his baggage and left to airport. Such was his dedication. Even though we had a successful demo the product didn’t see light due to multiple reasons. But, he never blamed any of his team members. And, even though we felt bad about not seeing the product go live, we still cherish those moments and the whole experience.

Do we need to become a workaholic?

dont be a workaholic

Often, people working late nights are referred to as workaholics. Yes, you would become a workaholic if you don’t manage yourself better. But, if you have the passion to get better at something, you would need to put yourself all in and work round the clock. The continuous efforts that one puts in will always turn out to be successful irrespective of the result.

Results could be in favour of you or not at all. Yet, if you sweat it out you will always get that inner strength to fight out more hurdles than you can ever imagine. I don’t mean just working hard is sufficient but one needs a direction and that direction should always be provided by leaders.

Spotting a true leader

If your leader is a firm believer and can make choices efficiently then s/he can lead your team well enough in that direction.  The team that believes in the leader will never break down irrespective of the results achieved. For this leader should have demonstrated Ownership. S/He should own the negative and positive results. When the results are not in favour then it is very important that leader must own the result and stand up to the team and accept where s/he didn’t guide the team well but make sure to bring in changes to correct them and move on. This I have got to experience when working under multiple leads…just been lucky enough!

personal and professional life balance

Leaders and ownership doesn’t mean only experienced people can showcase this characteristic. This attitude has to be built in each and every child since their schooling.  All seniors in the team must and should demonstrate this and see to that junior members of the team can absorb. A lead is never successful if his team members do not succeed. It could be any aspect of their life. S/he can bring in positive changes in their professional & personal lives.

A little bit about my team

We have together seen ups & downs and have learnt together. The senior most members of my team exhibit extreme ownership.  For me they are my inspiration to do better & better day in & out. Be it a small bug reported or major system going down they always raise up to the occasion. Not once, but each and every time they showcase this exuberance. I feel blessed and worry free having such people in my team. The junior members have really caught up to this attitude and are thriving to deliver at the same level now. It’s cherry on the cake.  

When I step back and analyse, I could figure out areas where we faced issues and what I could have done better to avoid such issues. This is the greatest learning of all time I would carry all along.

Final words…

Leaders don’t come blended with all leadership qualities. Leaders are not inescapable and unmistakable creatures of God. They brew up to accept the facts, learn over time & experience and take corrective steps and most importantly OWN things.

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