We take extreme ownership of our results, both the successes and the failures. We never point the finger or make excuses. We take it upon ourselves to understand the mission and believe in it. If you don’t understand the mission, it’s on you to get clear and ensure your plan supports it. Ask questions and speak up if you need clarification. This is our mission, but we’re all responsible for our own understanding. 

Extreme ownership isn’t trying to do everything yourself. It’s pulling the right people in when you need feedback and support. Extreme ownership isn’t going rogue. It’s keeping your team informed, sharing results, and presenting a solution when they fall short. By owning your results, you get to decide the path you’ll take to achieve them. Everyone should have the chance to do fulfilling work that brings them a sense of purpose. Extreme ownership makes that possible.

Autonomy is something we talk about a lot at Drift.

In our early stages, we knew we wanted our employees to be capable of running the company if needed and to jump right in with minimal guidance. Because in the startup world, the one thing you can count on is that things will change. Since then, autonomy has become one of our core values.

But this type of environment doesn’t work without the right people. By allowing the team freedom to build and self-organize, you’re at risk of someone:

  • Holding onto their ideas and products emotionally, which leads to bad decisions.
  • Showing up when they want, because they can.
  • Getting into the unhealthy habit of trying to control others (or worse, resenting others’ success).

To solve for this, you need to cultivate an environment that supports accountability and transparency. This plays out in two key ways:

  1. Owning our decisions. Can employees make decisions now and ask for forgiveness later, versus always asking for permission?
  2. Acknowledging our mistakes. Here’s the catch to having ownership: being fully accountable. When something’s not working, confront it. Then quickly move on to Plan B.

It’s as simple as that. No excuses. No one else to blame. It’s all about the individual, owning both the problems and the solutions to those problems. That’s what effective leadership looks like no matter what you do or what level you’re at.

How do you build an enduring company?

You have to build an enduring culture first. Find out what principles can get you there.

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