Turn the Ship Around

Turn the Ship Around

L. David Marquet

A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders


"Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders" is a leadership book by L. David Marquet, a retired U.S. Navy Captain. Published in 2012, the book presents a unique approach to leadership based on Marquet's experiences commanding the nuclear submarine USS Santa Fe.

When Marquet took command of the Santa Fe, it was considered one of the worst-performing submarines in the navy. Faced with poor morale and performance, Marquet realized that traditional top-down leadership wouldn't work. Instead, he decided to empower his crew members to take ownership and become leaders in their own right.

This approach led to a significant transformation. The crew became fully engaged, proactive, and motivated, turning the Santa Fe into the highest-performing submarine in the fleet.Marquet introduces a model he calls "Leader-Leader," which contrasts with the traditional "Leader-Follower" model. Key concepts of the Leader-Leader approach include:

1. Control: Shift decision-making authority to the people who have the information. Instead of waiting for orders, the crew members were empowered to take action based on their knowledge and judgement.

2. Competence: For crew members to make good decisions, they need technical competence. Marquet created an environment where continuous learning was encouraged and rewarded.

3. Clarity: Everyone needs to understand the organization's purpose and objectives. This alignment allows everyone to make decisions that are in line with the overall goals."Turn the Ship Around!" provides a real-world example of how drastically an organization can improve when each member is treated as a leader. Marquet's approach challenges traditional hierarchical structures and offers a powerful new model for empowering employees and improving organization performance.

Three Key Learnings:

  1. Leader-Leader Approach: Marquet introduces the "Leader-Leader" approach, which is a departure from the traditional "Leader-Follower" model. Instead of concentrating decision-making authority at the top, the Leader-Leader model empowers every member of the organization to be a leader in their own right, fostering a culture of ownership and responsibility.
  2. The Importance of Control, Competence, and Clarity: Marquet identifies these three elements as vital to the successful implementation of the Leader-Leader model. Shifting control means decentralizing decision-making to those with the most information. Enhancing competence ensures that those individuals can make informed, effective decisions. Providing clarity about the organization's purpose and objectives ensures alignment and coherent decision-making at all levels.
  3. The Power of Empowerment: The transformation of the USS Santa Fe demonstrates the effectiveness of employee empowerment. When team members are trusted and given the authority to make decisions, they are more engaged, motivated, and capable of contributing to the organization's success.

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