This book is the perfect accompaniment to the author's previous release "Extreme Ownership". In "Extreme Ownership" Jocko Willink and Leif Babin make the case that for leaders to succeed they must take responsibility for everything in their world and while that is an extremely important and difficult lesson to learn, there was more to the story. That is where their new book, "The Dichotomy of Leadership", comes in. In "The Dichotomy of Leadership" the authors dissect real-world situations, both in the military and in business, that illuminate the balancing act that all leaders face. When a leader starts to slide too far to one end of the seesaw they risk falling off the ride. This book is for those that want to continue the fight and lead their teams toward victory.
Like "Extreme Ownership", this book is broken into chapters, each with three sections: military examples, principles to take away and a real-world example of the lesson from the business world. Each chapter focuses on two opposing forces and breaks down the importance of each side. Then, it illuminates strategies for finding a balance between them. For example, the first chapter is about balancing the need to care about each team member while understanding that each team member is at risk of being killed, in the military case, or being replaced, in the business case. In this chapter, the reader learns that while a team leader must be connected to their team members they cannot lose sight of the overall goal and mission that they are tasked to accomplish. A leader cannot be so close to someone that they neglect to hold them accountable and they can't be so detached that they engender no loyalty or respect.
Another example I really enjoyed was in chapter two entitled: "Own it all, but empower others". In this chapter, we get more insight into the lessons that were discussed in "Extreme Ownership". The dichotomy of taking ownership of one's own responsibilities must be balanced with the ability to allow others to take ownership of their responsibilities. If a leader only holds him or herself accountable then they are doing their team a disservice by not creating a leadership mentality among the entire team. On the other hand, if a leader blames their team for every mistake then they are separating themselves from the team and not taking responsibility for their role the team's development.
As one continues to read they learn more and more about different opposing forces and how a leader can successfully identify when they are neglecting one aspect over the other. Each chapter empowers leaders with entertaining and instructional lessons, plucked from the real world, with strategies and tactics to correct the many imbalances that can occur. In chapter nine, A Leader and a Follower, we learn the power of humility and it is only with humility that one can look at one's self honestly and attempt to improve. This book is for those that have the humility to not take their own abilities for granted. By detaching from one's ego one can begin to see things more clearly and this book offers great insights into the many internal and external perils that leaders face.
While this book can be read without having read its predecessor I think that they are really just extensions of each other. Both "Extreme Ownership" and "The Dichotomy of Leadership" contain the fundamental strategies, concepts, and philosophy that underlie all successful leaders. One can choose to lead from a place of authority and may get compliance or one can lead from a place of friendship and they may get loyalty but for a leader to gain all the benefits that come from gaining the respect of their team one must learn to be balanced. A leader that does not take into account the dichotomies inherent in dealing with complex social interactions is bound to fall flat on their face, leaving their team directionless. Do not be that kind of leader.