Former U.S. Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, renowned for his expertise in leadership, has announced the release of a MasterClass at Work course on effective leadership, available on the MasterClass streaming platform.
Willink, who also co-founded the leadership consulting firm Echelon Front, has dedicated two decades of his life to military service, honing his leadership skills among fellow SEALs.
“Good leadership has the most massive impact on the performance of a team,” Willink said in a recent interview with Fox News.
He emphasized that leadership plays a pivotal role in both military and business environments. Willink’s experiences in the military highlighted the stark difference between the outcomes of a well-led platoon versus one with poor leadership. He said that leadership is the most significant skill he acquired, which he later imparted to young leaders during his tenure with the SEAL teams.
Willink’s teachings extended beyond the military, resonating with civilian workers. He discovered that leadership lessons acquired under high-stress military conditions were universally applicable.
“I realized almost instantly that all the leadership lessons that I had learned inside the military, under the most stressful environment possible, applied in any leadership situation,” Willink said.
He firmly believes that organizational issues stem from leadership problems, and addressing these leadership concerns is the solution.
Willink divulged several key leadership tactics rooted in military principles:
Listening: Willink underscored the importance of listening to team feedback. He believes in a “decentralized command” approach, where every team member comprehends the team’s objectives and contributes as a leader.
“Everyone has to be aligned,” Willink said. “And then you have to empower those subordinate leaders.”
Building Strong Relationships: For decentralized command to work effectively, building trust and relationships is paramount. Willink considers every team member a leader, emphasizing the importance of mutual understanding and respect.
“Relationships are paramount,” he said. “In my mind, everyone’s in a leadership position.”
Practicing Discipline: Willink champions discipline as a cornerstone of effective leadership. He asserts that discipline provides clarity and freedom within an organization, allowing members to make informed decisions swiftly.
Striking a Balance: Leaders should avoid extremes, whether emotional or unemotional. Willink advises leaders to maintain a work-life balance, ensuring neither aspect is neglected.
Taking Ownership: Leaders must assume responsibility for their team’s actions and outcomes.
“It’s your team. You’re in a leadership position,” he said. “When things go wrong, it’s your fault — and you’re the one who needs to fix it.”
Willink also encourages leaders to make swift, small decisions rather than waiting for a significant issue to necessitate a massive decision. He believes in empowering team members, allowing them to take ownership and solve problems.
“They’re on the front lines,” Willink added. “They can solve these problems.”
In conclusion, Willink emphasizes that leadership, like any other skill, can be learned and honed.
“Leadership is a skill, just like playing basketball or guitar,” he said.
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