I have been a supervisor for almost five years. During that time, I have read many leadership books and listened to many podcasts. The company I work for even sent me to a small seminar.
All due respect to John Maxwell, but I need a field manual with tactics. Enter retired SEAL Jocko Willink. With Leif Babin, he wrote Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership. Two excellent and highly recommended books, however, not the one I’m talking about.
Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual
“In the military, a field manual provides instructions in simple, clear, step-by-step language to help soldiers complete their mission. In the civilian sector, books offer information on everything from fixing a leaky faucet to developing an effective workout program to cooking a good steak.
But what if you are promoted into a new position leading your former peers? What if you don’t get selected for the leadership position you wanted? How do you overcome imposter syndrome, when you aren’t sure you should be leading? As a leader, how do you judiciously dole out punishment? What about reward? How do you build trust with your both your superiors and your subordinates? How do you deliver truthful criticism up and down the chain of command in a tactful and positive way?
These are all questions about leadership—the most complex of all human endeavors. And while there are books out there that provide solid leadership principles, books like Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership, there is no leadership field manual that provides a direct, situational, pragmatic how-to guide that anyone can instantly put to use.
Until now. Leadership Strategy and Tactics explains how to take leadership theory, quickly translate that theory into applicable strategy, and then put leadership into action at a tactical level. This book is the solution that leaders at every level need—not just to understand the leadership game, but also how to play the leadership game, and win it.”
If I create my own Cliff Notes for a book in Google Docs, I know it’s a good book. That’s what I did for this one, and it’s thirteen pages long. I had to make a table of contents for it.
One note I made in the book was simply “Me” when I read this passage.
“Some people worry they aren’t ready for a leadership position. Some even feel once in that position that they don’t deserve to be there. These anxieties are often described as imposter syndrome. But while some people worry about this feeling, I actually believe it can be a good thing. If you are worried that you aren’t ready for a leadership position, that means you are humble. If you are nervous, it means you are going to do your best to prepare for the leadership role, and once in it, you are going to be thoughtful about your words, actions, and decisions. All these things are positive.”
It’s okay to feel unsure. That helped.
Another quote I read was, “There are some leaders who think apologizing is a sign of weakness, but that is usually because they are weak and insecure about their leadership position.”
I simply wrote beside it, “Gibbs was wrong.” Is that blasphemy?
One take away I took away and applied immediately was how to get the team to take ownership of the job.
With a furlough at work, job positions had changed, manpower was at a premium, and we still had orders to fill. There was griping and complaining.
By then, I read the book and put a tactic into action. I let the guys make the plan and then endorsed it. It got the job done.
It didn’t matter that it wasn’t my grand plan. It worked. The team owned it. Jocko is all about extreme ownership.
My Goodreads review was 5 out of 5 stars and this simple comment, “It should be required reading for anyone in a leadership role.”