Turn the Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level
By L David Marquet (2012)
This was something I would wrestle with my entire command tour—balancing the courage to hold people accountable for their actions with my compassion for their honest efforts.
Everyone at every level, check in more often:
A little rudder far from the rocks is a lot better than a lot of rudder close to the rocks.
💡 Embrace the inspectors: get outside help and welcome their contribution.
Whatever sense we have of thinking we know something is a barrier to continued learning.
Make work process less passive, less like a briefing (a briefing is passive for everyone except the person giving the brief). Everyone should engage intellectually.
- Give goals (turn the ship around—performance, capability, morale)
- Explain constraints (can’t change the crew)
- Support (anything you need, let me know)
💡 There’s a problem if you’re only accountable when you’re in charge. It sends the wrong message: it has to be you running the show.
Resist the urge to provide solutions.
You want to move authority to where the information is; not information to authority.
Personality-centric and procedural leadership are top-down; procedural works for predictable systems.
💡 Example of giving chiefs authority over their staff’s leave. But this means also being responsible for their performance, watch, qualifications and training, etc. If you want to own it, you have to own the results too; all or nothing.
Clarity, competence and control.
💡 You want the team to be in thinking mode always. In top-down they don’t need to think because the boss will make the decision. So it’s harder, you have to prepare the team.
If all you need to do is what you are told, then you don’t need to understand your craft.
Control without competence is chaos.
- Request permission to…
- I would like to…
- What should I do about…
- Do you think we should…
- Could we…
- I intend to…
- I plan on…
- I will…
- We will…
💡 You have give reasons, explanations; everyone needs to be aligned with the goals: be here at 0600 “just didn’t work in the complex and unpredictable world we were in.”
Make a training program employees will want to go to: successful completion will result in increased decision-making (engagement, motivation, initiative, productivity, morale, effectiveness…).
Reward good behaviour and performance immediately.
USS Santa Fe Guiding Principles:
- Intimate Technical Knowledge
- Continuous Improvement