Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual – Jocko Willink Book Summary

Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual – Jocko Willink | Free Book Summary

Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual – Jocko Willink

Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual is a book by Jocko Willink that explores the nature of leadership and provides practical guidance for becoming an effective leader. The book presents a wide range of strategies, tactics, and tips for leading teams, dealing with difficult people, making decisions, delegating responsibilities, and much more.

The book also discusses the importance of ownership, communication, and accountability and provides real-world examples of how to implement these values. The book is an essential resource for anyone looking to become a better leader.

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Telling the truth

There’re many occasions where information is classified or forbidden to share freely.

In those situations, answer is simple: tell the truth. “I’m sorry, but that is actually classified information that I am not allowed to discuss.” Or “Listen, I would like to share that with you, but due to the legal situation, I cannot disclose it right now.”

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Building trust in small, calculated steps

The first mission you trust your subordinate to run shouldn’t be a major operation with huge consequences. It should be a simple operation with nothing but ego and pride at stake. Trust that you will let them solve problems and figure things out for themselves.

If subornation were successful, your trust in him would increase. So will his trust in you. Repeat this process over and over again to build trust among your team.

Taking preemptive ownership

If you truly believe in extreme ownership, you have no excuses when things go wrong and will make every conceivable effort to prepare before the mission. Ownership isn’t just about taking responsibility when mistakes happen; the highest form of extreme ownership takes place preemptively, before the mistakes occur.

So, mitigate problems before they even happen.

Making your team own the plan

If you have a solution you estimate to have 90% effectiveness and you see that the plan of your team has only 80%, you should let them execute their plan instead of yours. When you do so, you don’t need to convince them of anything because it’s their idea and they will be fully committed to bringing it to life.

The commitment alone would make up for the 10% effectiveness. If, say, your team’s plan has 50% effectiveness, you should guide and bring it up to 70–80% while ensuring it’s still their plan. Of course, if the planning process gets bogged down or the team can’t agree on a course of action, you might need to step in and provide guidance.

Otherwise, take a step back and let your team lead.

Controlling the urge to swing into action

There are times when people say and do things that appear to make no sense. But remember, anything you say now is based on incomplete and likely inaccurate information. Allow for the situation to unfold and for a more solid picture to emerge before you speak up.

Even in a gunfight, after the shooting starts, you must further assess what’s happening. If you’re being shot at from the north, you obviously need your team to return fire, but you can’t immediately commit your forces to maneuvering on the enemy in the north.

You must estimate the size of the opposition, terrain, and dynamics of the battlefield to make sure it’s the right decision.

Assuring everyone has the most important job

Explain to your team what will happen if they don’t do their jobs well. Explain how their job titles, no matter how small, fit into the big picture and the strategic mission.

The radioman on the battlefield has the most important job because if the team runs into an enemy force and comes under the threat of being overrun, it’s the radio on his back and his ability to use it that’s going to save the team. The same is true for medicine.

There’s nothing more important than bringing the wounded back alive. It’s only him and him alone who keeps the men alive. The rear security man is the most important because he knows where the team is going and what direction to take if they get into a gunfight. The list just goes on.

The point is that everyone has the most important job. So, let them know that.

Imposing your plan on the team

Think about it. If what you are trying to do is going to benefit your team in accomplishing the mission, why wouldn’t the team be on board? This is what makes requiring a direct order so rare. It happens nonetheless when the agendas of each individual do not align with the mission of the leader.

Once a direct order is given, the team may be directed to do something against their will, and they may well not want it to succeed. But still, you can increase your odds by explaining the why so they understand the benefits for themselves.

Understanding imposter syndrome

You may feel that once you’re in a leadership position, you don’t deserve to be there. This is perfectly normal. In fact, it can be a good thing. It means you’re humble. But you have to trust that they will see that you’re ready. Now it’s time for you to do the same.

Judging someone based on what you’ve heard

As a new leader, you must keep an open mind and judge people for yourself first-hand. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t consider any prior history a person might have but give the person the benefit of a fresh start.

Balancing positivity and realism

No matter what goes wrong, there’s always something good to find in a setback. Your funding was denied. Good, we can learn to be more efficient. The mission we were planning got cancelled. Good, we have now more time to prepare. But when you go too far with a positive attitude, your team cannot see the reality of the situation.

You got your funding denied. Okay, so this is going to take a little more time than we’d thought, but at least now we can streamline our processes and become as efficient as possible. The mission we were planning got cancelled. Well, this isn’t ideal, but at least now we can rehearse some of the details and be even more prepared.

Maintain a positive outlook, but don’t ignore the trials you face. Be positive and realistic.

Working with micromanager

If you’re working for a micromanager, you have someone who’s engaged and cares about doing a good job. If your manager is indecisive, you can set priorities and guide decisions. If he’s weak, good for you again. You can step up and lead. Regardless of the shortcomings your boss has, build relationships with him, help the team succeed, and so will you.

Knowing when to quit

Quitting on a tactical objective can be beneficial, even necessary at times. But you don’t quit the strategic mission. On the battlefield, a leader must decide to quit, regroup, and come back to fight later for strategic victory.

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