Jocko’s 12 Rules for Leadership

1. Be humble. It is an honor to be in a leadership position. Your team is counting on you to make the right decisions. 

2. Don’t act like you know everything. You don’t. The team knows that. Ask smart questions. 

3. Listen. Ask for advice and heed it. 

4. Treat people with respect. Regardless of rank, everyone is a human being and plays an important role in the team. Treat them that way. Take care for your people and they will take care of you. 

5. Take ownership of failures and mistakes.

6. Pass credit for success up and down the chain.

7. Work hard. As the leader, you should be working harder than anyone else on the team. No job is beneath you. 

8. Have integrity. Do what you say; say what you do. Don’t lie up or down the chain of command. 

9. Be balanced. Extreme actions and opinions are usually not good. 

10. Be decisive. When it is time to make a decision, make one.

11. Build relationships. That is your main goal as a leader. A team is a group of people who have relationships and trust one another. Otherwise, it is just a disconnected, incoherent cluster of people. 

12. Lastly, get the job done. That is the purpose of a leader—to lead a team in accomplishing a mission. If you don’t accomplish the mission, you fail as a leader. Performance counts.

Jocko Willink, Leadership Strategies and Tactics, 157-58.

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