February 16, 2022
Early in 2021, I read "Extreme Ownership" by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, retired Navy Seals, and it had a major impact on my life and the way I think. In the book, Jocko and Leif share ideas and principles that apply to almost all areas of business and personal life. The entire purpose of the book is to help readers understand that, as a leader, they are ultimately responsible for everything in their lives. They must not only lead by example, but also hold the line.
My team and I had been on quite the rollercoaster - as an entrepreneurial small business - from March of 2020 into 2021.
I asked my leadership team of 10 individuals if they would like to read a book with me to help us refocus ourselves. Their eyes lit up and I ordered everyone copies of the book! Each week I assigned a chapter and specific questions to go along with it. We met around our breakroom table, weekly, to openly discuss the questions, our answers, and how to best lead the Dolce Bakery team. It was a huge investment of our time and energy, but it was one of the best I (we) have ever made.
Those vulnerable conversations were powerful and productive. We gained a new shared language and we took honest assessments - noting where we were and how that lined up (and didn’t) with our company goals.
We had outgrown some of our systems and that was creating too much back and forth, a lack of clear delegation for some tasks, and several other unfavorable results. We audited our systems and made changes. It was simple, but not easy. But we stuck with it, navigated the challenges together, and ultimately are a much better and healthier team and company.
Our new accountability (organizational) chart was one powerful result. We utilize decentralized command for delegating tasks, responsibilities, and communication to the team. This keeps the number of people reporting to each person to a manageable size and ultimately keeps us all productive and focused. Restructuring our chain of command has allowed for the flow of information up, down and across departments, which is more necessary now than ever after almost quadrupling our square footage in our expanded space!
I highly recommend both the physical and the audio book versions of Extreme Ownership.
My team and I look forward to exploring another book together soon!