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This book is the sequel to Extreme Ownership by the same authors. If you have not read that book stop here and go read it.
For those of you familiar with military policies this book is the full of waivers. Extreme Ownership was the military regulation, this book discusses the “yes, but” portion of regulations.
The Dichotomy of Leadership follows the same format as Extreme Ownership. The authors tell a story of personal experiences as members of the Navy SEALS’ Task Unit Bruiser. The story is followed by an explanation of the principles discussed and closes with an application to business.
This edition name drops Chris Kyle several times. I found that part interesting as it appeals to a larger audience and gives their stories credibility based on the popularity of Chris Kyle from American Sniper.
I appreciated the topics that were discussed such as humility, followership, and the importance of realistic training. Extreme Ownership famously claimed that there are “no bad teams, only bad leaders.” This book clarifies that statement and the dangers of following the principles word for word.
As leaders we must stay humble, listen to our direct reports, maintain flexibility, and trust our team. Not allowing for flexibility in your interpretation of Extreme Ownership will see you end up in he micromanager zone. There are no benefits to micromanagement.
I read this book while deployed and as such I found many of the stories applicable to my current tasking. In full transparency I started skipping the “Application to Business” portion of the chapters about 3/4 of the way through because I felt I understood the point they were trying to make. If you are in the business world, it would benefit you to read those sections of the chapters.
This is my first book review. I apologize if it isn’t clear enough. I will work on the qualities of my reviews. – Abe
First, I would note that you will garner more wisdom from The Dichotomy of Leadership if you read Willink and Babin's first book Extreme Ownership, well, first.
Here they set out to give some examples from their leadership consulting work about how one could carry the principles in Extreme Ownership too far in one direction or the other, thus coming to those "dichotomies" that have to be carried in tension to lead an organization.,
The work is well organized and primarily suffers from the problem most "real-life business example" books suffer from: due to confidentiality, you are given portions of the examples, but not all of them. Further, as one sees looking back at "Good to Great," not every company that had a "this works great!" moment actually did succeed.
After all, you could pump up your local Blockbuster franchise, take Extreme Ownership of the situation and still get Primed to death.
Anyway, this is still worth reading despite that challenge. The thought exercises of how far to push each principle are good for discussions in leader development.
I really enjoyed the book! As the title suggests, it addresses the dichotomies of the principles in Extreme Ownership. The only bit of criticism I have is towards the end of the book it felt kind of forced, as if the authors needed to reach a minimum amount of words and the paragraphs began to repeat themselves and get a little redundant. It's not necessarily a bad thing I suppose if you read it several times it should have a better impact. Overall I loved the book, and will be reading the next one after "About Face".
My comments are based on a 36 year military career, most in leadership positions with two combat deployments. Any time you adopt extreme anything you need to know at some point you need to lean in t h e opposite directions restore balance. Most of these lessons are best learned on the job with a good mentor. You can read about balanced leadership but one must actually lead others to understand how to Val a nice the extremes.
This book is great for young leaders and anyone in a leadership position. While the concepts in this book were simple, they apply to any scenario or type of work. This isn't a magical, legendary, everything type guide. They aren't reinventing the wheel here and anyone who has served in a leadership position in the military should be able to recognize these "dichotomies." If nothing else this is a great "check yourself" book for those with experience in leadership. But at the same time a lot of the "dichotomies" covered seemed like common sense. Still a solid book, just not ground breaking or challenging.
Definitely a great read! From how Navy seals do it to how it applies to the corporate world. It's also great part two to their first book, extreme ownership. It did get a little salesy, with them talking about that consulting firm too many times, but I didn't mind. I strongly suggest reading both books back-to-back as there are number references from this book to their first book