Running a Tight Ship

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Want to learn how to run a tight ship? Listen to a guy who’s been there.

Retired U.S. Navy Captain L. David Marquet wanted to avoid the typical top-down military management style when he took over command of the nuclear submarine the USS Santa Fe. He outlined some of the lessons he learned in his recent book, “Turn the Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level” Among his observations:

  • Don’t just give people goals; give them the freedom to find creative ways to achieve them.
  • Embrace effectiveness instead of obedience. Welcome questions.
  • Embrace risk. Make decisions to achieve positive outcomes, not to avoid negative ones.
  • Provide incentives for long-term goals, not just short-term ones.
  • Eliminate processes that don’t add value.
  • Remember that your legacy depends as much on how things run after you leave as they do while you’re there.

Adapted from How to Lead Like a Military Commander at CIO Insight.

5 comments
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Matt Steen
Matt Steen

I am a pretty big fan of this book... in fact I am using it as a tool for many of my clients as a way to encourage them to de-centralize their leadership.

Dave Kinnear
Dave Kinnear

Turn The Ship Around! expresses sound and actionable leadership principles. I have given a copy to everyone of my business leaders and to several mentees. There is no doubt that if entrepreneurs build their businesses on the Leader-Leader model, they will be giving themselves, their families and their team mates an incredible gift. This is definitely a must read book for any leader.

norman7117
norman7117

In my experience, the courage that David had to trust his crew was a reflection of the extent to which he trusted himself.  One of the reasons so few people can truly become servant leaders, like David, is because of their inability to trust.  If I can't trust myself or you, the only way that I can feel safe is to control.  However, David knew that the  best way to have control is to give it up and that required great trust.

Dale R. Wilson
Dale R. Wilson

I am glad to see you feature a few of the principles featured in Captain David Marquet's book, "Turn The Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level."  The things Captain Marquet did on the USS Santa Fe is remarkable.

David's book reveals a solid, well-proven leadership approach which comes down to empowering people; giving people real responsibility and real authority; inspiring the empowerment of engaged people and leadership at all levels.  On the USS Santa Fe, David's leadership structure established mechanisms that created a favorable environment in which the crew were released to grow their knowledge and skills, ultimately gaining the autonomy over their tasks and resources to become leaders.  At the same time, David's approach challenged the paradigm of the hierarchical organization by revealing the process to tear down pyramids, create a flat organization, and to develop leaders, not followers.

David's accomplishments onboard the USS Santa Fe are impressive, and his book is a must read.

Dan Forbes
Dan Forbes

I know David Marquet personally and highly recommend that anyone interested in becoming a better leader read his book.  Thanks for calling attention to this.