The Dichotomy Of Leadership | part 3
Balancing The Challenges Of Extreme Ownership To Lead And Win
Leadership. It’s one of the most challenging roles to execute with excellence. If you’re in a leadership position, you’re going to make mistakes. You might even straight up fail at some things. But it’s your responsibility to learn from the past and make things better in the future.
This is part 3 of a review for a book written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. They’re retired Navy Seals who now run a company called Echelon Front that consults businesses about how to level up their games. Jocko is also the host of Jocko Podcast.
0:00 - Prelude
3:37 - A Leader & Follower
8:10 - Plan, but Don’t Overplan.
12:43 - Humble, Not Passive.
19:11 - Focused, but Detached.
25:05 - Afterward
27:37 - Epilogue
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A Leader and a Follower
Every leader must be able to lead, but just as important is a leader’s ability to follow. A leader must be willing to lean on the expertise and ideas of others for the good of the team. Leaders must be willing to listen and follow others, regardless of whether they are junior or less experienced.
If someone else has a great idea or specific knowledge that puts them in the best position to lead a particular project, a good leader recognizes that it doesn’t matter who gets the credit, only that the mission is accomplished in the most effective manner possible.
Confident leaders encourage junior members of the team to step up and lead when they put forth ideas that will contribute to mission success.
Under normal circumstances, a good leader must follow and support the chain of command. Failing to follow also creates an antagonistic relationship up the chain of command, which negatively impacts the willingness of the boss to take input and suggestions from the subordinate leader, and hurts the team.
Leaders who fail to be good followers fail themselves and their team. But when a leader is willing to follow, the team functions effectively and the probability of mission success radically increases. This is the dichotomy to balance: be a leader and a follower.
Humble But Not Passive
Humility is the most important quality in a leader. When we had to fire SEAL leaders from leadership positions in a platoon or task unit, it was almost never because they were tactically unsound, physically unfit, or incompetent. It was most often because they were not humble: they couldn’t check their ego, they refused to accept constructive criticism or take ownership for their mistakes.
The same is true in the business world. Humility is essential to building strong relationships with others, both up and down the chain of command, as well as with supporting teams outside the immediate chain of command.
Some leaders are humble to a fault. But being too humble can be equally disastrous for the team. A leader cannot be passive. When it truly matters, leaders must be willing to push back, voice their concerns, stand up for the good of their team, and provide feedback up the chain against a direction or strategy they know will endanger the team or harm the strategic mission.
Leaders must be humble enough to listen to new ideas, willing to learn strategic insights, and open to implementing new and better tactics and strategies. But a leader must also be ready to stand firm when there are clearly unintended consequences that negatively impact the mission and risk harm to the team.