Review of The Dichotomy of Leadership

dichotomy of leadership

Book written by: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

The Dichotomy of Leadership lays out 12 major aspects of leadership where people must find balance. Each chapter touches a dichotomy between taking control in some aspect and letting go. The book is a sequel to their first one “Extreme Ownership”. Throughout the read, the authors reference their first book by showing that being too controlling, taking too much ownership, or basically swinging the leadership pendulum too much in any direction will have a negative effect. Here are three points I want to highlight where I want to improve on.

Big Takeaways

First, an aspect of the dichotomy is to have discipline and structure but with grace. While a schedule and flow that is consistent is helpful, humans are not robots. Too much discipline will cause people to shutdown or leave. It’s counter-intuitive to hear that too much discipline is bad from former military members however, that is the truth.

The second point is to have the same relationship with every boss you’re under. The goal here is to have your boss trust you, have them value your opinion and have them give you what you need to accomplish your mission / tasks / goals. For me, this is the most difficult because it requires me to change and adapt to my boss. If I don’t agree with something, I have to adapt to give my boss what he / she needs so that I can complete the mission while also meeting the requirements of my leadership. This brings me to last aspect of showing humility and strength.

Finally, without humility and strength a leader is hard to follow. It makes me think of a saying popularized by Teddy Roosevelt, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” This dichotomy truly can apply to all aspects of leadership.

In summary I wholeheartedly recommend this book for all leaders. Every adult can apply principles of this book to their work life, various organizations and their personal relationships.

You can find “The Dichotomy of Leadership” wherever books are sold. Here is the book’s listing at Echelon Front’s website: https://echelonfront.com/dichotomy-of-leadership/. Echelon Front is the name of the organization the authors are from and are the companies founders.

Here you can check out my previous book review post: “8 Seconds of Courage