Extreme Ownership — No Passengers
At a recent Captain’s meeting, I introduced the notion of “No Passengers.” The mindset here is that everyone must be actively engaged and take responsibility for the safety, effectiveness, and success of an organization—in other words, no one is just along for the ride. This represents a different level of accountability and ownership—where literally everyone is empowered to think, observe, invent, engage, and say something. This is part of what I mean when I say, “Are you interested or invested? There are so many levels of lessons to learn from the principles of “Extreme Ownership” and “No Passengers” which can and should be applied to the Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
I’d like to review some critical points found in a great book, Extreme Ownership, by Jacko Willink and Leif Babin, but first I want to emphasize what I feel is the essence of effective implementation of these ideas. Simply stated, everyone in your organization must accept and apply the principle of accountability, personal and crew commitment to excellence, and constant daily improvement (Kaisan) in all areas of service you provide.
Three key points of the book, Extreme Ownership, and how it applies to us.
- “On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his 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." —Jacko Willink
Winning for us means safely and effectively mitigating the situations we respond to. The two critical components—safety and effectiveness should be honestly and comprehensively assessed after every response, by both the formal leaders and informal leaders in the organization.
It is only through a willingness to be truly critical of our performance that we open the possibilities for improvement. We should train to and expect perfection because the consequences of us underperforming are too significant.
- "Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team."—Jacko Willink
As Company Officers or leaders in any organization demonstrate humility and accept responsibility, members of their team will follow and a culture of accountability evolves. The focus becomes one of improving and progressing versus blame and excuses.
- "There are no Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders." —Jacko Willink
The message here is simple, as a leader, you must ask yourself where and how your leadership can and should improve the team. There is a great story in the book, Extreme Ownership, where an underperforming team is given a new leader with no other changes made, and the results were dramatically positive. Don’t make excuses, take steps, and action to make it better.
As we individually and organizationally apply the principles of Extreme Ownership and No Passengers, we will advance and excel individually and organizationally.
Fire Chief, Retired
Avondale Fire and Medical Department (AZ)