5 Leadership-Forging Books Like Extreme Ownership

Jocko is a bit of legend, I have to admit.

Between his books and his podcast, I’m always drawn to his simple, yet powerful messages.

Much like David Goggins, the fact that he leads by example and practices what he preaches makes what he has to say even more potent.

If you haven’t read Extreme Ownership for a while, it’s definitely worth revisiting.

If you have, check out these 5 similar titles.

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5 Books Like Extreme Ownership

1. Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead by Jim Mattis and Francis J. “Bing” West Jr.

In Call Sign Chaos, Jim Mattis and Francis J. “Bing” West Jr. recount their time spent in the Marine Corps, discussing the lessons they learned and the various challenges they faced.

The book is divided into three sections:

  • Learning
  • Leading
  • Fighting

In the “Learning” section, Mattis and West discuss the importance of understanding one’s enemy and learning from history.

They argue that it is essential to be able to think critically and question assumptions in order to be successful in war.

In the “Leading” section, the authors describe the process of taking a group of people from disparate backgrounds and molding them into a cohesive unit capable of accomplishing a task.

They discuss the importance of setting clear goals, providing adequate training, and maintaining discipline.

In the “Fighting” section, Mattis and West recount several battles that they fought in, including the Battle of Fallujah.

They discuss the importance of never underestimating one’s enemy, being prepared for anything, and adapting quickly to changing circumstances.

2. Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet

In Turn the Ship Around!, Marquet provides a step-by-step guide for transforming a sluggish and disorganized organization into a high-performing, efficient machine.

He does this by teaching leaders how to give their subordinates ownership of their work, create a sense of urgency, and establish a culture of accountability.

One of Marquet’s key points is that empowering subordinates leads to better performance.

When employees are given responsibility for their own work, they are more likely to take pride in it and be more productive.

Furthermore, when people feel like they are part of a team working toward a common goal, they are more likely to be motivated and take responsibility for their work.

Marquet also stresses the importance of creating a sense of urgency, without which, there is no incentive to improve performance.

And without improvement, the organization will become stagnant and eventually fall behind the competition.

To create a sense of urgency, Marquet recommends:

Setting goals that are challenging yet achievable

Establishing timelines for completing tasks

Holding employees accountable for meeting deadlines

Finally, Marquet believes that establishing a culture of accountability is essential for achieving high performance.

Employees must be held responsible for their actions if they are to be expected to operate with integrity.

By establishing clear standards of behavior and holding employees to account, leaders can create a culture in which everyone strives for excellence.

3. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal

Team of Teams is a book written by Stanley McChrystal, who is a retired four-star general in the United States Army and was the former commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

The book is about how the United States military should be structured in order to effectively combat modern terrorist organizations.

McChrystal argues that the traditional top-down military structure, where orders are given from the top and passed down through the ranks, is no longer effective in combating organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

These organizations are decentralized, meaning that they have no central leader that can be taken out to cripple them.

In order to combat them effectively, the United States military must adopt a more decentralized structure, where decisions are made at the lowest level possible and information is shared freely between units.

This new structure is based on the idea of “team of teams”, which is a metaphor for how organizations should be structured.

A team of teams is made up of small, independent teams that work together to achieve a common goal.

Each team is autonomous and has its own leader, but they all share information and work together to achieve common objectives.

McChrystal uses the example of the United States military in Iraq and Afghanistan to illustrate how this new structure works.

In these war zones, the United States military was faced with a decentralized enemy that could not be defeated by traditional methods.

In order to defeat them, the military had to restructure and work with local partners who knew the terrain and the culture, a new framework that was successful in defeating Al-Qaeda and ISIS in both countries.

McChrystal argues that the United States military must adopt this new mindset permanently in order to combat future terrorist threats.

4. One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams by Chris Fussell and Charles Goodyear

In One Mission, the authors discuss the importance of having a singular focus in order to achieve success in any field.

They argue that having a clear, concise mission is essential for any organization or individual, as it allows everyone to be working towards the same goal and eliminates any confusion or ambiguity.

The authors use case studies and personal anecdotes to illustrate how a focused mission can lead to remarkable results.

One Mission begins with a discussion of the importance of mission-based leadership.

The authors state that mission-based leadership is not about giving orders or micromanaging; rather, it is about setting the overall vision and strategy for an organization and then empowering individuals within that organization to make decisions and take action.

Mission-based leadership requires a clear understanding of the mission itself, as well as the larger goals that the mission supports.

The rest of One Mission is devoted to illustrating how a focused mission can be put into practice:

  1. The first chapter looks at how missions can change over time, and how it is important to constantly revisit and revise your mission statement in order to stay relevant.
  2. The second chapter discusses how missions can be used to unite organizations and individuals around a common goal.
  3. The third chapter looks at how missions can be used to motivate employees and achieve remarkable results.
  4. The fourth chapter discusses how missions can be used to make tough decisions, even when those decisions are unpopular.
  5. And finally, the fifth chapter looks at how missions can be used to create a lasting legacy.

5. Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard P. Rumelt

Rumelt’s book is essentially a treatise on what makes a good strategy and what makes a bad one.

He argues that good strategy requires an appreciation for the resources available to the organization, as well as a realistic understanding of the obstacles that must be overcome.

One of Rumelt’s key points is that good strategy requires discipline and rationality and cannot be based on guesswork or unfounded assumptions about what will happen in the future.

Finally, good strategy must be aligned with the organization’s goals, and it must be communicated effectively to all members of the organization.

In contrast, bad strategy is often characterized by hubris and a lack of realism.

It may be based on wishful thinking or outdated information about the current situation.

Bad strategy can also lead to disunity within an organization, as different factions compete for control over the strategic direction.

Finally, bad strategy is often not communicated effectively to all members of the organization, which can lead to confusion and conflict.

Rumelt uses several real-world examples to illustrate his points, including the Enron debacle and the Iraq War.


Extreme Ownership takes lessons from the battlefield and applies them to other crucial areas of life.

The other book recommendations likewise distill the authors’ leadership lessons for wider application.

Read, learn, implement and let me know how you get on!