Turn the Ship Around! | L. David Marquet

Summary of: Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders
By: L. David Marquet


Are you struggling to find satisfaction in your job? Join the numerous unsatisfied workers navigating through a world of increasing productivity demands and cognitive tasks. ‘Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders’ by L. David Marquet offers an alternative to the outdated leader-follower organizational approach, highlighting the benefits of a leader-leader structure. In this summary, explore how empowering all team members, distributing decision-making power, and upholding core values can transform an organization’s performance and improve employee satisfaction. Discover Marquet’s firsthand experience in applying these principles on the USS Santa Fe and learn how to adapt them to your own work environment.

The Flaws of Leader-Follower Approach

Are you satisfied with your job? Apparently, job satisfaction in the US has hit rock bottom in the past decade. At the same time, there has been a significant drop in productivity, resulting in a loss of up to $300 billion due to productivity issues in the US alone. To make things worse; the U.S unemployment rate increased to 9% for a record of 31 months, up to November 2011. To tackle these symptoms, we need to scrutinize the structures and organizations of leadership that we have maintained for centuries. The leader-follower approach has been in practice for ages, perfectly suited for delegating menial tasks among workers, but unsuited for cognitive tasks and decision-making roles. It is time to revolutionize our idea of leadership to empower and truly satisfy workers.

Leading with a Leader-Leader Structure

The book proposes a leader-leader system as an effective approach to leadership that empowers individuals at all levels of an organization. In a leader-leader system, decision-making power is distributed throughout the chain of command, allowing individuals to act promptly and effectively on new information. The author illustrates this approach with a firsthand account of turning around the performance of a nuclear-powered submarine in the U.S. Navy using a leader-leader structure. This approach proved successful in improving crew retention rates, tactical effectiveness, and overall performance of the ship. The book emphasizes that leadership is not limited to a select few, and that a leader-leader approach is key to creating a satisfied and empowered workforce. The next parts of the book provide guidance on how to implement this approach.

The Leader-Leader Approach

Establishing a leader-leader approach that empowers employees to make decisions begins with redefining the organization’s DNA. It requires managers to relinquish some of their power to create sustainable change. The USS Santa Fe implemented this approach by passing control down the chain of command to chiefs responsible for each division, granting them greater responsibility for decision-making. This led to an increase in efficiency and workforce passion for performance. To actively involve the entire crew, they used a simple three-word phrase: “I intend to…” The pillars of competence and clarity are key to sustaining a successful leader-leader system.

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