Mon. Jul 4th, 2022

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Turn the ship around! David Marquet’s leadership book, How to Create Leadership At Every Level, is called “How to Turn the Ship Around!” This is the story of how he took a U.S. nuke submarine from one of its lowest performers to one that was one of the best in the fleet. Each chapter contains a story from below deck as well as the leadership lesson that non-naval managers could learn from it.
Stephen Covey writes in the Foreword that “Leadership” is “the communication to people of their worth and potential in such a way that they are inspired to realize it.”
Marquet learned leadership was about controlling people during his time at the naval academy. This is the standard leader-follower’ model. Marquet realized that this model requires the leader to be present at all times and set the direction without fail.
The leader can leave or go to sleep when off-shift, but the followers no longer have that direction.
He writes, “People who are treated like followers have the expectations and act like followers.” This is true for many things, such as sports teams, but it is important for nuclear submarines. He claims that we are taught empowerment is the solution. “While the message is empowerment, the method – It takes me to empower -fundamentally disables employees” Fair point.
Leadership is essential for any project. While you don’t need to be present 24/7 to lead your project team, you should be aware of what happens when you’re away from the office or on vacation. Can they run the ship without your supervision? Marquet created the ‘leader-leader model’ to ensure that everyone could operate the ship without him.
It is also a good strategy to keep a team performing at their highest levels even after the leader has left.
Marquet’s sub was promoted to this level by the book. This book is very relevant to project environments.
Delegate down
Marquet writes, “Don’t move information towards authority, move authority to information.” He gives an example of how to get leave approved for a sub. The old process was complicated and involved multiple steps. The person at the top of a chain didn’t understand the consequences of someone being absent.
Marquet instead made the department heads responsible for signing leave forms. This not only eliminated several steps in the chain, but also made it easier for them to manage the watch and training schedules.
The three-name rule
The three-name rule is another example of behavior change that can be encouraged. Marquet wanted his staff polite and interested in visitors when they came onboard. This was what they often did.
He writes that there are two options when trying to change the behavior of employees. One is to change your thinking and hope it leads to a change in behavior. The other is to change your behavior and hope it leads to a change in thinking. They chose to implement the three-name rule.
The idea was to address a visitor every time a crew member saw one on board. They would also give their name and the boat name. It would sound like this: “Good Morning, Commodore Smith. I’m Petty Officer Jones. Welcome aboard the Sante Fe.
This is not a suggestion that you should just do it by rote every time someone visits your project office. You could do something similar by making sure everyone on the team understands what to expect when new members join or subject matter experts are added to the team.
Control, competence, and clarity
Control, competence, and clarity are the keys to success.

By Adam