But if you have enough leadership capital and you care about your people enough, when you explain why we’re doing what we’re doing and how these things, these steps along the way might give us a chance to actually increase investment over here and I might shift you from this job to that job or I might not be able to bring you back here, but when this happens and this happens, I now have an opportunity to bring you back.

The Debrief w/ Jocko and Dave Berke #1:

Jocko and Good Deal Dave Analyze some issues and look for solutions.

Jocko Willink (00:00):

This is the Jocko Debrief Podcast episode one with Dave Berke and me Jocko Willink. So Dave, here we are. I want to talk a little bit about how we got here and why we decided to do this. What we do at Echelon Front is work with companies. We talk to them about leadership. We try and pass on the lessons that we learned about leadership. We try and help them along the pathway and help their organization align all of their leadership.

Jocko Willink (00:34):

We do the same thing with EF Online, which is our online platform. And we spend basically all day every day, talking about leadership with all these different individuals and all these different scenarios and when these things happen, there’s issues that get resolved. There’s issues that don’t get resolved and take another move and another step and we spent a lot of time debriefing these things and I was thinking and we were thinking that it would be, we got done talking about one of these things.

Jocko Willink (01:12):

I said, “Would nice if we had recorded that Debrief and let everybody know that there’s a solution to that particular problem. Lot of good topics, a lot of universal lessons, we thought it might be cool to put together a podcast about that. So, here we go. We’re going to try and keep it a little bit shorter than the normal Jocko Podcast, not talk for five hours. So that way people can digest them, get the lessons and move on, try and keep a, maybe a half an hour, something like that. Cover a couple topics. So with, Dave let’s debrief, what do you got?

Dave Berke (01:48):

Yeah, the cool part about talking about leadership all day every day is I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. And the conversations we’re having are these real time problems that these companies are struggling with and when we come to up a solution, it makes a huge impact. And I think the connection I was making when we were talking to it is how useful that can be. You don’t have to be at this company for the lesson and the takeaway to be useful for you, so I think this itself is pretty universal.

Dave Berke (02:20):

The first company, this first conversation we were having, it came up recently and the thing that’s crazy about it. I probably had four different companies that I’ve been working with just in the last couple weeks, all dealing with the exact same thing. COVID hits, it’s early March, the whole thing, everything shuts down and one of the first things we were talking about, you talked about this on one of our very first EF Online sessions is you got to tell your people the truth and this is an emotional time. You got to see detached from the emotion, but you have to tell your people the truth.

Dave Berke (02:54):

And one of the things I think a few people did was in their concern about making their people worried is they said, Hey, there’s nothing to worry about. Everything’s going to be fine, we’re not letting anybody off, we’re not going to make any big movements and so in the interest of keeping people calm, they said something that in the short term actually kept them pretty calm. Hey, you got nothing to worry about.

Jocko Willink (03:17):

Let me ask you this. Was what they were saying the truth.

Dave Berke (03:22):

No, it wasn’t the truth.

Jocko Willink (03:23):

I was going to say, because there’s a, you can, pre-identify the issue that you’re going to have when the out of the gate, what you’re saying is not the truth. And here’s what you got to watch out for is you might think that you understand, you might think you understand and you bolster your opinion up because it’s the easy way. It’s the easy way to roll.

Jocko Willink (03:45):

So I look in and go, Hey, you know what? This virus is hitting. It’s going to last a month. You know what we can, we got enough funds. We’ll be fine. We’re not laying anyone off. That’s the truth as you see it. The part that you’re missing is you don’t know. That’s the part that you’re missing and if you remember early on, when we were talking in Echelon Front, I said, “Hey, this is a virus. It’s going to run its course.”

Jocko Willink (04:09):

It just like when you get sick as a human being with a virus, look when you get a bacterial infection, guess what you go and you take antibiotics and it cleans you up. That’s just what you do. With a virus there’re no antibiotics. It runs its course and then it’s you spend three days in bed and then when it’s over, it’s over, you lose, five, eight pounds of whatever because you can’t eat or you’re sick or you’re thrown up and then you get down and it’s over and then you go back to normal life.

Jocko Willink (04:39):

And I just thought to myself, okay, this is a virus that’s going to run its course. And you just extrapolate that out to the nation and you say, okay, well the virus, that’s what I did. Okay, the virus is going to run its course and actually when you look at the world, many places, that’s exactly what it looks like.

Jocko Willink (04:57):

There’s a massive spike. The virus runs its course and then it’s gone. If you look at Italy right now, massive spike people dying, it’s awful and then it’s over. It runs its course. So that was my opinion of what was going to happen. But if you remember, when we talked about what we were going to do at Echelon Front, I said we could breath hold through this thing. Meaning, Hey, we could just be okay, bating down the hatches, let this thing get, go through and we’ll be back on the road in two months and we’ll be back to normal business.

Jocko Willink (05:28):

But there’s enough of an ego control mechanism in place that I was said to myself, “Hey, I think that’s what’s going to happen. But I don’t know that’s what’s going to happen.” So I didn’t convince myself that was the truth. I said, “Hey, this is what I think will happen but we are not going to do a breath hold. We’re going to make proactive changes right now make adjustments because I don’t know how long this thing’s going to last.”

Jocko Willink (05:54):

I’ll tell you how long I think it’s going to last, but I don’t know that so therefore, we are going to make adjustments right now to be ready. If this thing will work, if this thing is over in two months, great, we’ll we’ll carry on. If it’s not over, if it lasts for three months or five months or six months or a year, we’re making adjustments right now to be able to contend with that a future.

Jocko Willink (06:15):

So out of the gate, when you start thinking about these things as a leader, you not only have to tell the truth, you have to make sure that you are telling the truth to yourself about what you know and what you don’t know. So to come out of the gate when something like this hits and say, we’re going to be fine, everything’s good, we don’t have to make any adjustments, I’m not laying anyone off, we’re not cutting. That’s not being truthful to yourself about what you know and what you don’t know.

Dave Berke (06:49):

Yeah. And, right there is the difference. When you, none of these companies, none of these folks we’ve been working with, sat down and said, this is going to be really bad, but I can’t tell my people that so I’m going to lie to them. That’s not what this was. It was exactly how you described, which was, Hey, I don’t really know. But I think the best thing I can do is keep everybody calm cause we’re going to get through this. That’s the breath hold, Hey, everybody, we’re going to be fine.

Dave Berke (07:13):

And the not telling your truth to this yourself so you don’t tell the truth to your people. What it does is it defers the problem and now they’re in a position where not only are they grappling with what to do now, because now they’re having to make some harder decisions. They’re all in a position to have to explain and defend why they said what they said for five months ago, instead of being truthful, which is, listen, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I do know what’s going to happen.

Dave Berke (07:39):

Here’s some things that I think may play out. Here’s some experience that tells me we might move in this direction, but the way we’re going to operate at this company is we’re going to be agile, we’re going to be flexible, we’re going to change to make sure we succeed and thrive and get through this and that may mean some hard decisions along the way that when they come will address them and I don’t know how that’s going to play out, but what we’re going to do is everything that we can to make sure we get through this.

Dave Berke (08:01):

That is a very different conversation than you have nothing to worry about. Everything is fine. Don’t worry about how this plays out because in a couple months we’re going to be back to [inaudible 00:08:11] normal.

Jocko Willink (08:11):

So that goes into you tell your people the truth and you make a mistake. So then what do you do? Clearly we know what to do. The book is called Extreme Ownership. When you come up and say, Hey, everyone, don’t worry about it. We’ll be fine. It’s going to be gone in a couple months, no factor. And then a couple months goes by and it’s still there and you don’t have any income and of a sudden we got to start letting people go. What you do is you tell the people the truth about what’s happening. And you say, here’s what is happening and then the most important thing you’ve got to do once you say, Hey, this is the adjustment that I’ve got to make. You’ve got to say, and here’s why I need to make this adjustment.

Jocko Willink (08:52):

I was wrong. I thought this thing would be over in two months, I was wrong. Here’s the adjustment we’re making. The reason that we have to what’s the situation. The reason we have to reduce salary right now is because if we don’t reduce salary, we are going to run out of money and if we run out of money, we won’t have a business anymore. So we are going to cut salaries right now and you know what? I don’t know when it’s coming back.

Jocko Willink (09:18):

Here are some other measures that we are going to take. We are going to adjust our business in this direction. We are going to do adjust our business in another direction at Echelon Front, for instance, what business did we did? We adjust. We started doing all online training. We went from 99.9% face-to-face to 99.9% virtual at Origin.

Jocko Willink (09:43):

What do we do at Origin? We went from making geese and [jeans 00:09:47], by the way, geese, that’s a great business to be in. When there’s thousands of ju-jitsu schools expanding across the country and then in a about a one week period, every single ju-jitsu school and academy in America was shut down. Who’s buying geese when you can’t do ju-jitsu.

Jocko Willink (10:04):

So what do we do, pivot? We started making other products. Products that we needed. We started making masks. We ramped up some of our other production, but you can’t just sit there and say, well, you know what, we’ll just sit around and wait until people need geese again. When is that going to be? I mean, well, to be quite frank actually people are starting to order geese again now and we’re we ramped up production again, but we didn’t know how long it was going to be.

Jocko Willink (10:29):

So you have to explain not just what you’re doing, not just about the mistakes you made, not just about your error in judgment, but also why you’re doing this. I was working with a client the other day, it was almost the exact same problem and he was, we were role playing how he was going to tell his team, “Hey, we’re going to have to get rid of some people.”

Jocko Willink (10:53):

It wasn’t just cut and pay anymore. We’re going to have to get rid of some people. And what he was saying was this is a business decision which is on the extreme version of, I’m not having any emotions. Hey, this is a business decision. I mean, if Dave tells me he’s, my boss says, yep, I’m cutting three people to businesses decisions sorry, that means to me, Dave doesn’t care about me. He just cares about the business.

Jocko Willink (11:19):

If you tell me that we are doing this, because if we don’t cut people right now, we will have to shut everything down and no one’s going to have a job and by the way, my goal is we bring, once business starts going again and we make these adjustments and we pivot and we move, we’ll be able to bring some other people back on board.

Jocko Willink (11:33):

Yes. That’s what we’re trying to do. So telling people the truth, telling them why you’re doing what they’re doing and admitting that you’re making mistakes, very important things to go through in situations like this.

Dave Berke (11:47):

Yeah, we were talking about just today on EF Online, we’re talking about leadership capital and the best way to lose leadership capital, lose trust, lose respect is to show your team that you don’t care about them. And when you talk about the why, one of the things you’re trying to explain inside that why is, how do we get through this. How do we get healthy and why those sacrifices are important and it is not easy to let someone go. It’s not easy to do that.

Dave Berke (12:19):

But if you have enough leadership capital and you care about your people enough, when you explain why we’re doing what we’re doing and how these things, these steps along the way might give us a chance to actually increase investment over here and I might shift you from this job to that job or I might not be able to bring you back here, but when this happens and this happens, I now have an opportunity to bring you back.

Dave Berke (12:41):

Those people. What we’re seeing is that people are getting their hours cut. People are getting their salaries cut. They’re still trying to contribute as much as they can and work above and beyond what’s expected of them because they believe in what’s happening and they want to be part of the recovery that team and help, maybe the ones that aren’t going to be there or even just make that company survive.

Dave Berke (13:00):

So even in these hard business decisions, the thing that matters the most is your people believing in what they’re doing for you. And what we’re seeing is these companies that are working through this, they’re people are stepping up and contributing when on paper, they really shouldn’t. But they’re doing it big because they’re leaders, they’re saying and doing the things that make them know that I care about you and I want you to be successful and this is how we make it happen. If we don’t and we all fail, we all lose.

Jocko Willink (13:24):

Yeah. The losing leadership capital by not taking care of your people. The biggest indicator and self check to ensure that you’re not allowing that to happen is make sure that you’re putting your team above you. Put the team above yourself and that is one of those things you think you can get away with. You think no one’s going to notice that you took care of yourself. You took the easy job, you didn’t take the pay cut, whatever the case may be. You think one’s going to notice that they all notice it.

Dave Berke (13:57):


Jocko Willink (13:57):

And this is coming from years of experience of my own of watching my leaders and seeing them take care of themselves sometimes and hearing the whole, not just me, it’s not just I noticed it because I was super perceptive. No, I’m talking about everyone in the platoon. Did you see that piece crap over there sitting with his hands as pockets while we’re working. It’s everybody notices that.

Jocko Willink (14:18):

And one of the things I said on EF Online today that somebody pulled out a little quote and put it in the chat box was, if your team is going to suffer, you better partake in that suffering as a leader and you better partake more than everybody else, more than everybody. Otherwise you’re burning your leadership capital for no reason.

Dave Berke (14:42):

And this is the situation. These are the times when that leadership capital matters the most. You had another cool line today in your phone line. Leadership capital is the currency of winning.

Jocko Willink (14:58):


Dave Berke (14:59):

Listen, we were all running on a pretty hot streak. The country, the world was running on a hot streak. We were all benefiting from this rising tie that all of us were growing at expanding, making money and things were really good for most of us for a pretty long time.

Dave Berke (15:14):

Well, it’s not like that right now and we’re really matters where you really show that you believe in the things that you say, that the ethos that your people come first, all those things that we can say when it’s easy to say, when things are easy, this is where that leadership capital matter the most. And this is when winning is the most difficult, when that currency is the most valuable. This is the time to have that currency as a legit quote.

Jocko Willink (15:40):

Yeah. I thought you might like that one. So that’s good. Good ways to deal with these situations and preventing the rumor and the chaos and the mayhem and how do you do that? Tell the truth, explain why and make sure that you lead from the front when it comes to suffering.

Dave Berke (16:03):

Partake in the suffering. That’s good.

Jocko Willink (16:06):

What was the next one?

Dave Berke (16:09):

The next one. So is a relationship thing. We’ve got a couple people. These are more senior folks on the team key leaders on the team. They all work pretty well together. They’ve got two peers, two people, both manager in a leadership positions. They both work with each other and one person. I was always coming the other person and asking for help. It’s like I’m coming to you, Hey, I’ve got this situation. Can I get your advice?

Dave Berke (16:36):

And I listen to your advice and I never follow it. So there’s been the town of this ongoing trend that for months and years we’re equals where peers, I make the gesture of asking what you think, but I actually don’t apply or implement what you think. But if I go do what I want to do and I try to solve the situation and on my own, and it doesn’t work out, I come back at you and point the finger at you.

Dave Berke (16:58):

So I’ve got this person who’s been frustrated because he feels that every time he offers some advice, this other person ignores. Still blames him anyway. So a couple weeks ago I thought, [inaudible 00:17:09] Hey, do you have time for a call? I said, absolutely. They walked me through this. This person came to them to ask him for advice and they said, “I don’t want to give you my advice anymore. You don’t listen to me and even if I offer you something and it doesn’t work, you still blame me for the problem.”

Dave Berke (17:22):

So this person has resigned themselves at this equal. I’m not going to help you. I’m not going to work through this with you. I’m tired of you asking me and not doing what I say. What should I do in this situation. And that was the scenario is they were tired of having this other person ask them for help.

Jocko Willink (17:41):

So what’d you tell him?

Dave Berke (17:43):

Well, I told him what he didn’t want to hear. Look, man, this is a hard thing too and the reason this one was hard for them and the reason why this is hard for anybody, we can all put ourselves in the position where we don’t, we’re exhausted by this other person’s behavior. The only issue really that’s going on here is this person’s own frustration. This person’s own ego.

Dave Berke (18:07):

So the question I asked to say, Hey, listen, let me make sure I got the situation. They ask you, they ignore your advice. They do what they want. It doesn’t work. Then they keep coming back to you for advice and you don’t want to help them anymore. And I said, who benefits from that? He said nobody. Okay, how does the team benefit? The team doesn’t benefit.

Dave Berke (18:26):

So what’s the real problem here. And I didn’t actually have to tell them the problem was you’re explaining. They said, the problem is my own ego. And the reason this person I’m working with was able to say that is because we’ve been working with them for months and months and months and they, like most people do over time come to the conclusion that in almost every situation where you’ve got a relationship problem, the answer is almost always your own ego.

Dave Berke (18:48):

It’s almost always you are the problem inside that relationship. And so the question I asked him, I said is it potential that maybe the advice that you give this other person isn’t that good? So we dissected a little bit of, Hey, the two real key things to think about is one is, Hey, it may be that the problem isn’t with them, the problem is with you and the other element to is, if you come to the conclusion that you’re no longer going to participate on this team, you’re no longer going to contribute. You’re no longer going to offer what you have. What’s the outcome that and the outcome is that everybody’s going to lose.

Dave Berke (19:22):

And so that conversation sunk in which listen, that frustration, that is your problem. How do you get past that?

Jocko Willink (19:31):

So, I’ll go one step further on that. If I’m trying to, let’s say I’m trying to give you advice.

Dave Berke (19:37):


Jocko Willink (19:38):

And you’re not taking the advice. One question I could absolutely ask myself is, if I take ownership of that and say, well, maybe my advice isn’t that good. That could be an outcome. The other, and the what do I do about that? I try and formulate better ideas. But the other thing is, maybe I’m not doing a good job of communicating my advice to you in a way that you actually want to take my advice.

Jocko Willink (20:06):

And if I can’t communicate something in a way that you want to accept it, then you’re not going to accept it. And one of the most rudimentary mistakes that human beings make is giving, when I say, “Hey, Dave, here’s a better way to do what you’re trying to do.” That’s Hey, you let, in fact, let’s try this. Dave, let me give you some advice.

Jocko Willink (20:29):

Now look, if I know you’ve got a big ego and I come to you with, let me give you some advice. How’s that going to work out? It ain’t going to work out it. It ain’t going to work out. You’re going to say, yeah go ahead. I’m going to tell you my idea. It’s going to bounce off your ego shield with no, not even making a dent.

Jocko Willink (20:51):

It’s not even going to make a dent. So maybe, and when we start pulling the strings on this and this is, it’s one of those things where sometimes you almost feel like it’s a cop out to get to the point and the conversation where you say, you start pulling the string, pull the string, pull the string and you get to a point where you go, oh, you don’t have a good [inaudible 00:21:08] , I don’t have a good enough relationship with you.

Jocko Willink (21:10):

Because if I had a good enough relationship with you and I gave you advice, you’d be puff, I didn’t see it that way. And if I don’t have that strong enough relationship with you, what I need to do is actually be more tactful and maybe say, Hey Dave, can you explain to me why you’re executing it like that so I can under stand it better?

Jocko Willink (21:27):

You say, well, we’re doing it this way because this is the most efficient way. Hey, the way you’re doing this one part over here, the cycle over here, does that always does that always work the fastest? And you go, yeah, it’s always the best way. Oh, that’s awesome. Have you ever seen anyone do it this other way? I was wondering what your opinion was of that and all I’m doing is just opening up your mind, trying to have a conversation.

Jocko Willink (21:47):

I’m actually, now instead of me giving you my opinion, I’ve actually flipped the deck over. Now I’m asking you for your opinion. I’m asking you for your opinion, which means that I’m elevating your opinion because I’m asking more, I’m not giving you mine. Give you my opinion, I’m elevating my own opinion. I’m going to elevate your opinion. I say, “What do you think about that little part of the project over here in this little cycle, do you think that’s the best way? What’s your opinion on that?”

Jocko Willink (22:12):

And you say, “Well, I have seen it done better.” Oh and all of a sudden we’re having a real conversation about it. Similar vain, I had an individual on a call, the company and the guy props, the guy says, “Hey, what do I do when my spouse won’t take ownership?” It’s just, and I had to go through the whole thing. Listen, this isn’t about your spouse. This is about you and if you’re looking at your spouse, when your spouse doesn’t execute the thing you way you wanted it to, it’s actually on you.

Jocko Willink (22:53):

And I always go back to Charlie Plumb. To Charlie Plumb, if you haven’t heard that podcast, it’s number 76 and they in the Hanoi Hilton, after you was shot down and was a prisoner of war for six years. And when they had cellmates, if their cell mate was doing something that annoyed them. If Dave was doing something as my cell mate, that annoyed me, it was my fault. It was my fault.

Jocko Willink (23:23):

And if that’s what, if that’s step number one for you’re, going to get a lot further in all your relationships. Instead of thinking when Dave does something that annoys me, that’s my fault instead it’s Dave does something that’s annoys me and it’s my fault for allowing it to annoy me and I need to adjust. Start there. It’s a good place to start.

Dave Berke (23:47):

Yeah. The beauty of that too, is whatever level, whatever way you look at this at however you want to pull that thread of that problem and get to the core of it, every direction you look at it, every way you attack it always comes back to you. Which is actually a really good thing, because that means you have all the control over this situation.

Dave Berke (24:04):

And if the first approach didn’t work, cool, no factor, take another approach. The other reason why I really wanted to talk about this one. This is a company we’ve got a long standing relationship with. We’ve been with them for well over a year. We know these people really well. And this is one of those conversations that I get to have that’s fun is that, in the middle of the conversation, I can see the other person dial in. They know what’s going on and when we were talking and I was talking about the idea of, Hey, listen, when you resign yourself to Hey, I’m not going to do this anymore.

Dave Berke (24:34):

As I’m going to get to an explanation, this person cuts me off and says, “That’s not cover and move.” And that right there’s Hey, we’re done. That’s you got it. That’s exactly right and so when you’re working with other people and you see them make the connection, it makes that ownership piece so much easier when they can, in their own mind say, oh, Hey, what I’m not doing is this and that’s hurting me and it’s hurting the team. I can easily go fix that.

Dave Berke (24:59):

It makes those other pieces so much easier to apply. It’s easier to keep [inaudible 00:25:03] and check, we connect when you can actually connect it to things we teach. And this was one where they said, that’s not cover remove, I got it. That’s good to go.

Jocko Willink (25:12):

Check. All right. So build good relationships and by the way, it’s on you. Well, let’s do, let’s do one more.

Dave Berke (25:22):

Do one more?

Jocko Willink (25:22):


Dave Berke (25:24):

All right. What do we got? We had a company where we had a regional manager responsible for several different districts. So this regional managers seem, I think they own the Eastern portion of the United States, there’s something along those lines and had a bunch of different districts that answered to this person.

Dave Berke (25:46):

And one of those district managers is probably their best district manager good to go but bit of an ego. And this district manager sent an email to his boss telling him, Hey, here’s all the things we’re doing wrong. Here’s all the mistake. Just an aggressive email and articulate a little bit of frustration with how this regional manager operating. So it wasn’t an effective email, obviously that didn’t go-

Jocko Willink (26:12):

Wait, that wasn’t an effective email?

Dave Berke (26:13):

[crosstalk 00:26:13].

Jocko Willink (26:13):

You mean the regional manager didn’t read it go gosh, thank you for this input. Great. Thank you for coming at me like that. I really liked your, I really appreciate your transparency.

Dave Berke (26:23):

Yeah. That did. That’s not how it went over and it’s funny, you said that because I think inside the email, there was a phrase, I’m just being transparent or I’m just being honest, something like that, which was the caveat of, Hey, I’m going to be a jerk totally out of line inappropriate and nothing I’m going to say is going to resonate, but I’m going to say it anyway.

Dave Berke (26:39):

So that’s how the email came across. And of course the regional manager amazingly didn’t appreciate that. Well, so an interesting thing happened, they talked about it and this person that sent the email, this guy was Hey, you know what, I’m sorry. You’re right. And realized that the way that he communicated wasn’t effective and straight up took ownership of it and said, “Hey, I shouldn’t have done that. I let my emotions get the best of me. Apologize and Hey, that’s not going to happen again. I’m going to do much better job communicating.”

Dave Berke (27:09):

But that wasn’t the issue. The issue is in this case, that regional manager, that boss took the apology of the subordinate as a win, as a victory. And so when this person took ownership and apologized and said, “Hey, I was out of line.” The regional manager reinforced that by saying, “Yeah, you were.” Something like don’t ever let that happen again. Don’t ever talk to me like that and left it as I won the argument. I put you back in your place and there should be no confusion on your mind of how this thing works.

Dave Berke (27:44):

And that was actually the real issue here because that regional manager, this senior boss was in a position to have an incredible win out of this bad situation. And what they did was actually undermine their relationship because the other person was doing what we’ve been talking about, which is take ownership and when they did, they got smacked in the face over doing that.

Dave Berke (28:06):

And that the amazing thing about it was, that regional manager took a win and turned it into a loss and created more problems with that subordinate that had nothing had ever come out of it from the get go.

Jocko Willink (28:20):

Yeah. That’s, that’s interesting. So, usually it’s the other way that I have to discuss this issue. Which is, when I say as the boss, “Hey Dave, this was my fault. It shouldn’t have gone this way. I made a couple bad calls. It’s on me.” And people say, yeah, but what happens when Dave says back to me, “Yeah, you am right Jocko. It is your fault.” And people don’t know what to do that. That catches them off guard.

Jocko Willink (28:51):

They don’t know what to do. When I say, “Hey, Dave, this was my fault. I shouldn’t have let this happen.” You go, yeah, it was your fault. And now I think, wait a second. What happens? My ego flares up and it seems uncomfortable because now you’re blaming me and when you blame me, I get defensive and now I go on the attack and I actually retract my ownership.

Jocko Willink (29:11):

So, what I find interesting about this one is, I’m the DM. I’m the subordinate and I submit the apology. Hey boss, I’m really sorry. I got emotional and I wrote this aggressive email. I should have read it before I sent it. I want to build a good relationship with you. It’s on me. I won’t let it happen again. I’m sorry. And then the regional manager goes, yeah, it is your fault and you better not do that again.

Jocko Willink (29:42):

And what happens to the subordinate? The subordinate goes, wait a second. Wait you’re saying this is my fault. And the correct response actually is, yeah boss. Absolutely. As I just said, this is on me. It’s my fault but what happened is, so even though yeah, the regional manager, the boss made a bad move, made a bad tactical move, didn’t build a relationship, didn’t move it forward.

Jocko Willink (30:08):

But the subordinate, what he should do, that’s, I always, this is one of the times where I consistently yell an answer. Would I consistently yell and answer, which is when I say, “Hey, this is my fault.” You say, yes, it does. I go, I know-

Dave Berke (30:26):

I know.

Jocko Willink (30:28):

… that’s exactly what I just said. It’s the same thing. Hey boss, I shouldn’t have done this. It’s my fault. Yeah, you’re right. It is your fault. Yes, absolutely. Boss. That’s what I just said and then I’m definitely want to take ownership and I need to be, think through things before I do it. Boom. Elevate the conversation, move it forward. As opposed to letting your ego flare up a little bit.

Jocko Willink (30:48):

Look, this is what we’re doing. How do you disarm the ego? You subordinate your own. I can’t forcibly subordinate your ego. I can’t forcibly do it. I, and we have two big egos in the room. I can’t forcibly subordinate you. I can try. And how can I try and do it? I can be offensive to you. I can put you down. I can pull rank on you. There’s all these ways I can try and force the submission of your ego.

Jocko Willink (31:16):

None of them work. I mean, they, they might work temporarily. I could yell and scream at you and kick you out of my office. Cool. I won that minute battle and then your bunkered even more into your position, you hate me now. You went from, Hey, I’m at the boss now I hate my boss. So it’s not a win.

Jocko Willink (31:34):

When I forcibly try and submit your ego, I’m not going to make it happen properly. So what I can do is I subordinate my own ego. And you know what? That stings, it stings. I know it stings. I know it stings. And people think, Oh, Jocko, you go into a room and if your boss would tell you to do something stupid, you just stand up and say, hell no, boss. I’m not doing it.

Jocko Willink (31:57):

Wrong. I made a career out of subordinating my ego. Why? Not to kiss someone’s ass, not to make them feel good, but so that I could do my job better so my team could get the support we needed. So we could move forward. So I could develop that relation so when I did need something from my boss, I could actually get it. That’s what we’re doing here.

Jocko Willink (32:19):

So when you feel that frustration and you can hear it, you can hear it in someone’s voice. Well, I don’t know the words that they use. We don’t have quotes in here, but even when I hear he took it as a win and took it as if he was right. He was. He was. Accept that. Accept that and use that as a starting point to begin to redevelop and rebuild that relationship.

Jocko Willink (32:55):

Probably a good place to stop. We did it 33 minutes, not bad. All right. If you want to join, if you want to dig deeper into, to all these aspects of leadership in any arena, you can join Dave and me and the rest of the EF the Echelon Front team, efonline.com. We solve problems through leadership. This is what we do.

Jocko Willink (33:17):

If you want leadership guidance inside your organization, you can come check out our leadership consultancy at echelonfront.com. I’ve also written a bunch of books on the subject of leadership Extreme Ownership, Dichotomy Leadership, Leadership Strategy and Tactics got some other podcast Jocko podcast. Jocko Unraveling, Grounded and the Warrior Kid Podcast. And if you want to support any of these podcasts, including this one, then you can get some gear from jockostore.com or originmaine.com. Thanks for listening to The Debrief. Now go out and lead. This is Dave and Jocko. Out.

Ben Duff

Ben Duff

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