37 Noteworthy Jocko Willink Quotes

Jocko Willink is a former United States Navy SEAL and author of ‘Extreme Ownership.’ Focused on teaching organizations the value of leadership, Willink provides experienced and practical solutions to successfully create high performance teams. Here is a look at some of the most memorable Jocko Willink quotes to remember.

“A leader has nothing to prove, but everything to prove.”

“A leader must be aggressive but not overbearing.”

“A leader must be attentive to details but not obsessed with them.”

“A leader must be brave but not foolhardy.”

“A leader must be calm but not robotic.”

“A leader must be close with subordinates but not too close.”

“A leader must be confident but never cocky.”

“A leader must be humble but not passive; quiet but not silent.”

“A leader must be strong but likewise have endurance, not only physically but mentally.”

“A leader must exercise Extreme Ownership. Simultaneously, that leader must employ Decentralized Command.”

“A leader must have a competitive spirit but also be a gracious loser.”

“A leader must lead but also be ready to follow.”

“Combat is reflective of life, only amplified and intensified.”

“Ego clouds and disrupts everything.”

“Extreme Ownership is a mind-set, an attitude.”

“Extreme Ownership: there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.”

“Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get it done.”

“Human beings are generally not capable of managing more than six to ten people, particularly when things go sideways and inevitable contingencies arise.”

“I had to take complete ownership of what went wrong. That is what a leader does — even if it means getting fired. If anyone was to be blamed and fired for what happened, let it be me.”

“If frontline troops are unclear about the plan and yet are too intimidated to ask questions, the team’s ability to effectively execute the plan radically decreases.”

“If you allow the status quo to persist, you can’t expect to improve performance, and you can’t expect to win.”

“In chaotic, dynamic, and rapidly changing environments, leaders at all levels must be empowered to make decisions. Decentralized Command is a key component to victory.”

“It is essential to develop a standardized planning process.”

“Leadership requires belief in the mission and unyielding perseverance to achieve victory.”

“Leading people is the most challenging and, therefore, the most gratifying undertaking of all human endeavors.”

“Once the wheels were in motion and the full resources of the team were engaged in that highest priority effort, I could then determine the next priority, focus the team’s efforts there, and then move on to the next priority.”

“Overconfidence was risky in such a hostile environment, a mistake most often made by warriors who had never truly been tested.”

“Some of the boldest, most successful plans in history have not come from the senior ranks but from frontline leaders. Senior leaders simply had the courage to accept and run with them.”

“The book derives its title from the underlying principle — the mind-set — that provides the foundation for all the rest: Extreme Ownership. Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.”

“The goal of all leaders should be to work themselves out of a job. When mentored and coached properly, the junior leader can eventually replace the senior leader, allowing the senior leader to move on to the next level of leadership.”

“The leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything.”

“The SEAL Teams and the U.S. military, much like militaries throughout history, are based around building blocks of four-to-six man teams with a leader.”

“There can be no leadership when there is no team.”

“They didn’t have to jump for joy at the though of fighting alongside Iraqi soldiers on a dangerous battlefield. But they did have to understand why they were doing it so that they could believe in the mission.”

“To implement real change, to drive people to accomplish something truly complex or difficult or dangerous — you can’t make people do these things. You have to lead them.”

“When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission’s success, performance suffers and failure ensues.”

“When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable — if there are no consequences — that poor performance becomes the new standard. Therefore, leaders must enforce standards.”

Here is an impressive excerpt of Jocko Willink from the Sales Mastery Conference. In this clip, Willink discusses discipline and making the right choices to accomplish what you want in life.

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