At our latest agency book club meeting, we discussed “The Dichotomy of Leadership” by former Navy Seal officers Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Through the course of their service, they witnessed leadership in all forms. Upon their return to civilian life, they were able to use their training and combat experiences to recognize many of the dichotomies present in leadership. Throughout the book, the authors share how leaders can find balance while they navigate seemingly opposing demands to effectively lead and accomplish goals. Consider picking up a copy here. But if time is short, here are five key takeaways from our team.
TOP 5 TAKEAWAYS
1. Leaders need to find balance, which is hard but necessary. This is easier said than done, but the first step is being aware that these dichotomies exist. From there, you’ll be able to recognize when a dichotomy is out of balance to recalibrate if needed.
2. Leaders need to balance their people. Caring about your people means you as a leader occasionally have to make tough decisions. It also means striking a balance between owning every decision the team makes and empowering others to take charge, knowing when to stand firm and when to be flexible, and recognizing when it’s time to invest in mentoring someone or let them go. If a leader can find the right balance when managing their team, the individuals – as well as the team – will flourish.
3. Leaders must balance the mission. While leaders are charged with owning everything that happens on a mission, they know it’s truly a team sport. Getting all players up to speed is critical to ensuring success. Leaders can do this by helping their team train hard (but strategically!), being proactive while still taking the time to analyze the best path forward, remaining disciplined but not so rigid that it hinders common sense and progress, and holding people accountable while giving them space to figure things out for themselves. With these approaches, a leader will find their team well-equipped to tackle whatever the mission throws at them.
4. Leaders have to balance themselves. To continually grow, leaders need to balance everything they’re doing, taking time to: lead as well as follow, plan without overplanning, be humble but not passive, and manage knowledge of the details while maintaining a high-level view. This approach not only provides an opportunity for personal growth but also drives the team’s growth.
5. Leaders make balance a continuous pursuit. Our world is constantly evolving, which means the dichotomies of leadership are, too. By recognizing when a dichotomy is out of balance, a leader can take steps to correct that imbalance and keep moving forward.