Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders

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“One of the 12 best business books of all time…. Timeless principles of empowering leadership.” – USA Today

"The best how-to manual anywhere for managers on delegating, training, and driving flawless execution.” —FORTUNE

Since Turn the Ship Around! was published in 2013, hundreds of thousands of readers have been inspired by former Navy captain David Marquet’s true story. Many have applied his insights to their own organizations, creating workplaces where everyone takes responsibility for his or her actions, where followers grow to become leaders, and where happier teams drive dramatically better results.

Marquet was a Naval Academy graduate and an experienced officer when selected for submarine command. Trained to give orders in the traditional model of “know all–tell all” leadership, he faced a new wrinkle when he was shifted to the Santa Fe, a nuclear-powered submarine. Facing the high-stress environment of a sub where there’s little margin for error, he was determined to reverse the trends he found on the Santa Fe: poor morale, poor performance, and the worst retention rate in the fleet.

Almost immediately, Marquet ran into trouble when he unknowingly gave an impossible order, and his crew tried to follow it anyway. When he asked why, the answer was: “Because you told me to.” Marquet realized that while he had been trained for a different submarine, his crew had been trained to do what they were told—a deadly combination.

That’s when Marquet flipped the leadership model on its head and pushed for leadership at every level. Turn the Ship Around! reveals how the Santa Fe skyrocketed from worst to first in the fleet by challenging the U.S. Navy’s traditional leader-follower approach. Struggling against his own instincts to take control, he instead achieved the vastly more powerful model of giving control to his subordinates, and creating leaders.

Before long, each member of Marquet’s crew became a leader and assumed responsibility for everything he did, from clerical tasks to crucial combat decisions. The crew became completely engaged, contributing their full intellectual capacity every day. The Santa Fe set records for performance, morale, and retention. And over the next decade, a highly disproportionate number of the officers of the Santa Fe were selected to become submarine commanders.

Whether you need a major change of course or just a tweak of the rudder, you can apply Marquet’s methods to turn your own ship around.
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About the author

L. David Marquet, a top graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, commanded the nuclear-powered, fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe from 1999 to 2001. Since retiring from the Navy he has worked with businesses nationwide as a leadership consultant.  He gives presentations around the world and has also written a companion workbook called Turn Your Ship Around.  He lives in Florida with his wife, Jane.
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Published on
May 16, 2013
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Business & Economics / Leadership
Business & Economics / Management
Business & Economics / Workplace Culture
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The legendary tale of top-down change for anyone trying to navigate today's uncertain business seas.

When Captain Abrashoff took over as commander of USS Benfold, it was like a business that had all the latest technology but only some of the productivity. Knowing that responsibility for improving performance rested with him, he realized he had to improve his own leadership skills before he could improve his ship. Within months, he created a crew of confident and inspired problem-solvers eager to take the initiative and responsibility for their actions. The slogan on board became "It's your ship," and Benfold was soon recognized far and wide as a model of naval efficiency. How did Abrashoff do it? Against the backdrop of today's United States Navy, Abrashoff shares his secrets of successful management including:
See the ship through the eyes of the crew: By soliciting a sailor's suggestions, Abrashoff drastically reduced tedious chores that provided little additional value. Communicate, communicate, communicate: The more Abrashoff communicated the plan, the better the crew's performance. His crew eventually started calling him "Megaphone Mike," since they heard from him so often. Create discipline by focusing on purpose: Discipline skyrocketed when Abrashoff's crew believed that what they were doing was important. Listen aggressively: After learning that many sailors wanted to use the GI Bill, Abrashoff brought a test official aboard the ship-and held the SATs forty miles off the Iraqi coast. From achieving amazing cost savings to winning the highest gunnery score in the Pacific Fleet, Captain Abrashoff's extraordinary campaign sent shock waves through the U.S. Navy. It can help you change the course of your ship, no matter where your business battles are fought.
From Stephen R. Covey comes a profound, compelling, and groundbreaking book of next-level thinking that gives a clear way to finally tap the limitless value-creation promise of the “Knowledge Worker Age.”

In the more than twenty-five years since its publication, the classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has become an international phenomenon with more than twenty-five million copies sold. Tens of millions of people in business, government, schools, and families, and, most importantly, as individuals, have dramatically improved their lives and organizations by applying the principles of Stephen R. Covey’s classic book. The world, however, is a vastly changed place. Being effective as individuals and organizations is no longer merely an option—survival in today’s world requires it. But in order to thrive, innovate, excel, and lead in what Covey calls the “New Knowledge Worker Age,” we must build on and move beyond effectiveness. The call of this new era in human history is for greatness; it’s for fulfillment, passionate execution, and significant contribution.

Accessing the higher levels of human genius and motivation in today’s new reality requires a change in thinking: a new mindset, a new skill-set, a new tool-set—in short, a whole new habit. The crucial challenge of our world today is this: to find our voice and inspire others to find theirs. It is what Covey calls the 8th Habit. So many people feel frustrated, discouraged, unappreciated, and undervalued—with little or no sense of voice or unique contribution. The 8th Habit is the answer to the soul’s yearning for greatness, the organization’s imperative for significance and superior results, and humanity’s search for its “voice.”

Covey’s new book will transform the way we think about ourselves, our purpose in life, our organizations, and about humankind. Just as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People helped us focus on effectiveness, The 8th Habit shows us the way to greatness.
Una historia real que demuestra que el liderazgo debería implicar delegar el control más que controlar, y crear líderes en lugar de seguidores.

«El mejor manual práctico sobre cómo delegar, formar y conseguir procesos sin errores.»

David Marquet, oficial de la Navy con una gran experiencia, estaba acostumbrado a dar órdenes. Cuando accedió al cargo de capitán del submarino nuclear USS Santa Fe, tenía bajo su mando a más de cien marines en las profundidades del mar. Marquet seguía el modelo tradicional de liderar el barco, hasta que un día, involuntariamente, dio una orden imposible y, pese a ello, su tripulación intentó cumplirla. Marquet descubrió entonces que estaba rodeado de seguidores, y que todos estarían en peligro hasta que no se produjera un cambio radical.

¡Cambia el barco de rumbo! es la historia real de cómo el Santa Fe, tras cuestionarse el tradicional modelo líder-seguidor de la Navy, pasó de ser el barco peor valorado de toda la flota a convertirse en el mejor de todos. Su tripulación empezó a sentirse plenamente comprometida y a desarrollar todo su potencial.

Independientemente del lugar que ocupe en su empresa, usted también podrá aplicar el modelo de Marquet para cambiar radicalmente el rumbo de su barco. Su recompensa: una organización en la cual las personas asumen plenamente sus responsabilidades, y donde son, en definitiva, más felices.

«No conozco un modelo mejor de liderazgo que el del capitán Marquet. En las páginas de este libro, tú también encontrarás un modelo para tus retos.»
Stephen R. Covey, autor de Los 7 hábitos de la gente altamente efectiva

«Lea ¡Cambia el barco de rumbo! y aprenderá a generar personas resistentes y comprometidas, deseosas de ponerse manos a la obra.»
Almirante Thomas B. Fargo, U.S. Navy retirado, excomandante de la flota del Pacífico y presidente de Huntington Ingalls Industries

«Esta es la historia del capitán David Marquet y de su aventura sin precedentes en uno de los ambientes más rígidos, a bordo del Santa Fe, un submarino nuclear de la Marina de los Estados Unidos. Tuvo el coraje de reformular su definición de liderazgo y obtuvo unos resultados revolucionarios; en cuestión de meses la tripulación pasó de ser la peor valorada a ser la mejor considerada.»
Charlie Kim, fundador y CEO de Next Jump, Inc.

«Este libro es un feliz cruce entre La caza del octubre rojo y la Harvard Bussiness School.»
Joe Debono, fundador y presidente de MBA Corps y gestor de patrimonios en Merrill Lynch

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