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Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders Hardcover – May 16, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 579 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


I don't know of a finer model of this kind of empowering leadership than Captain Marquet. And in the pages that follow you will find a model for your pathway. -- Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

 To say I'm a fan of David Marquet would be an understatement... I'm a fully fledged groupie. He is the kind of leader who comes around only once a generation. He is the kind of leader who doesn't just know how to lead, he knows how to build leaders. His ideas and lessons are invaluable to anyone who wants to build an organization that will outlive them. -- Simon Sinek, optimist and author of Start with Why

How do we release the intellect and initiative of each member of the organization toward a common purpose? Here's the answer: With fascinating storytelling and a deep understanding of what motivates and inspires. David Marquet provides leaders in the military, business, and education a powerful vehicle that will delight, provoke, and encourage them to act. -- Michael P. Peters, president of the St. John's College, Santa Fe

I owe a lot to Captain David Marquet ... not only for turning the Santa Fe around during some REALLY bad times but I learned many lessons on leadership from him that have been invaluable in my post-Navy life. I preach the three legs (control, competence, clarity) of Leader-Leader everyday to empower my people and move the decisions to where the information lives... I used these principles to turn around the GE Dallas Generator Repair Department, which was in crisis when I arrived in 2010 and now is the best Generator Repair Department in the GE Network... Now I am tasked with turning around the Dallas Steam Turbine Repair Department... -- Adam McAnally, Steam Turbine Cell Leader at the GE Dallas Service Center and former crewmember, USS Santa Fe

This terrific read actually provides new and valuable insights into how to lead. And nothing important gets done without leadership. Captain Marquet takes you through his life of learning how to lead, and presents you with a winning formula: not leader-follower, but leader-leader. It's about leading by getting others to take responsibility--and like it. It works for business, politics, and life. -- Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of several business boards, and a former columnist for The New York Times

It's the Hunt for Red October meets Harvard Business School. Turn the Ship Around! is the consummate book on leadership for the Information Age--where unleashing knowledge workers' intellectual capital is pivotal in optimizing organizational performance: from maximizing market share and minimizing customer churn to improving margins. Capt. Marquet's thesis is a complete paradigm shift in leadership philosophy. This new approach to leadership is applicable in all industries and across all corporate functions. If you're an Organizational Behavior or Leadership expert or enthusiast this book can have a substantial impact on you and your organization s ability to meet its goals. -- Joe DeBono, Founder and President of MBA Corps and Merrill Lynch Wealth Manager

David Marquet's message in Turn the Ship Around! inspires the empowerment of engaged people and leadership at all levels. He encourages leaders to release energy, intellect, and passion in everyone around them. Turn the Ship Around! challenges the paradigm of the hierarchical organization by revealing the process to tear down pyramids, create a flat organization, and to develop leaders, not followers. -- Dale R. Wilson, Sr., business management professional, and editor/blogger at Command Performance Leadership (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

This is the story of Captain David Marquet's unprecedented experiment in the most rigid of environments on the Santa Fe, a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered submarine. He had the courage to operate counter-culture, reengineering the very definition of leadership accepted by the U.S. Navy for as long as it has existed. He took huge risk to do this. The outcome was revolutionary - within a few short months, the crew of the Santa Fe went from worst to first. In today's information age, Human Capital is our most precious resource. It is the 21stCentury weapon of choice. Captain David Marquet's experiment in leadership has far greater application to the entire business world. This is thought leadership. -- Charlie Kim, Founder & CEO of Next Jump, Inc.

Leaders and managers face an increasingly complex world, where precise execution, teamwork and enabling of talent are competitive advantages. David Marquet provides a blue print, along with real-life examples and implementation mechanisms. Anyone who is charged with leading and making a difference needs to read this. -- John Cooper, President and CEO, Invesco Distributors

David Marquet's book discusses 'successful motivation' that provided his people the energy to overcome difficult obstacles. The values that he imbued in his folks provided a 'burst of energy' that positively energized them by satisfying their needs for achievement, providing appropriate recognition, providing a sense of belonging, developing self-esteem, permitting a feeling of control, and permitting an ability to live up to appropriate standards. This type of leadership energizes the work force and allows senior management to 'paint the future and light a path that takes the entire team to it.' This is a must read for all who desire good moral influence on the work force! -- Vice Admiral Al Konetzni, (USN, ret.) Former Pacific Fleet submarine commander.

The legacy of a Commanding Officer, or the leader of any organization, is how well the organization performs after he/she departs and the subsequent motivation, success and institutional contribution of those next generation leaders trained and developed. Read Turn the Ship Around! and you will learn how to build an enduring high performer, where people can't wait to get to work. -- Admiral Thomas B. Fargo (USN, ret.) Former Commander U.S. Pacific Command Chairman, Huntington Ingalls Industries

What I learned from and with David Marquet is that developing a bottom-up, Leader-Leader culture produces highly empowered people and highly effective teams. It worked on a nuclear submarine and it worked in the mountains of Afghanistan. That said, cultivating a Leader-Leader culture is much easier said than done because you must overturn almost everything people grow up thinking and learning about leadership. -- Captain (sel) Dave Adams, USN, Former Weapons Officer, USS Santa Fe, Khost Province PRT commander, Commanding Officer, USS Santa Fe

Captain Marquet's compelling leadership journey inspires each of us to imagine a world where every human being is intellectually engaged and fully committed to solving our toughest challenges. If it can be done on a nuclear submarine, it can be done everywhere. Turn the Ship Around! delivers a brilliant message. -- Liz Wiseman, Author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

About the Author

A top graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, L. David Marquet commanded the nuclear-powered, fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe from 1999 to 2001. Santa Fe earned numerous awards for being the most improved ship in the Pacific and the most combat-effective ship in the squadron. Since leaving the Navy he has worked with businesses nationwide as a leadership consultant. David also teaches graduate level leadership at Columbia University. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and lives in Florida with his wife, Jane.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; 1 edition (May 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591846404
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591846406
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (579 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Srikumar S. Rao VINE VOICE on September 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am skeptical about books on leadership. Most are written by persons who have reached positions of hierarchical authority in organizations and then anointed themselves "leaders." They don't talk about the political infighting and maneuvering that got them the job. Instead they wax eloquent about their skill in developing people - skills that frequently exist only in their imagination and the book they have written which book is often fiction parading as non-fiction. I was a contributing editor for one of the major business magazines and have met plenty of CEOs. I will leave it to you to guess how many times insiders have told me that the book their chief has written is wildly off the mark.

I have not met any of the persons that David Marquet commanded, but I will lay a substantial wager that many will follow him wherever they can.

Full disclosure: I am biased. I think that David is a leader, not a commander or a CEO or a senior officer but an authentic leader, for two reasons: 1) his views conform largely to my own, and 2) He undeniably moved a top of the line US nuclear submarine form bottom of the heap to the top by many objective measures.

David's views on leadership, and I repeat I heartily endorse these, are:

1) "Our greatest struggle is within ourselves. Whatever sense we have of thinking we know something is a barrier to continued learning."
2) The way to build a great team is to push decision making down, way down. The more each person feels he has the ability to do what he needs to in his immediate working environment, the more he will "own" his job and the more engaged he will be.
3) Engaged people will bubble with ideas about how to make the whole enterprise better.
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just finished this book with my highest regards and compliments to Captain Marquet! very enlightening and thought provoking. thoroughly enjoyed hearing his stories at sea and how he unequivocally shaped his men to be thinkers instead of doers. Although I do not think my three sons "will intend to make their bed" everyday, it did make me stop and and think how better I can give direction, both at home and at work as a manager of a restaurant. A must read for everyone - corporate leaders, teachers, parents - anyone will benefit from Captain Marquet's wisdom and leadership skills he developed and invoked upon his crew.
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I was beginning to the come to the realization that every leadership book out there was both a waste of my time and money. When I saw this book though, every review being 5 stars sucked me in, but I only expected it to be remotely better than the rest. I could not have been more wrong, this was not only far and away the best book on leadership, but it was thoroughly enjoyable to read as well.

Unlike just about every other book on leadership that gives you a magical checklist of how to produce extraordinary results, Captain Marquet actually explains in depth how each of these conclusions came to be. Most of the story takes place from the time right before he took over what was the worst submarine at the time until deployment which was a period of about 7 months. He tells the stories during these months with perfect clarity, making you feel as though you are there. I found myself searching for solutions to the abundance of issues the ship faced, only to find them reach a conclusion, while I sat wondering how I missed such an obvious solution.

I don't write reviews because I never find that I have something worth saying. For this case though, I felt that I needed to encourage people to buy this book, because every employee deserves to have a boss that not only reads this book but implements the lessons learned within. Do yourself and your employees a favor and read this book, you won't regret it.
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Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure - David Marquet and I are U.S. Naval Academy classmates. I didn't know David back then but interestingly enough we were both in command of improved 688 fast attack submarines at the same time, David on Santa Fe in the Pacific and me on USS Toledo (SSN-769) in the Atlantic. Also interestingly I actually used some of the techniques David describes in this book (for example, having your people come up with a plan and say "I intend to" rather than "Request permission to" or even worse when I arrived on board Toledo, "What do you want to do about x, y, or z?") My problem was that I didn't have a comprehensive SYSTEM like David lays out here. As a result my use of techniques such as David describes was haphazard and ad hoc. I am convinced that if I had employed the complete system David describes I would have been much more successful, AND YOU CAN BE TOO. If you lead anyone in any line of work you owe it to yourself to read this book, employ its strategies and then watch your business (or submarine) thrive!! And then you'll want to pass this book around and encourage other people to read it too!
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As I near the end of my tenure as a Naval Officer in Command, I find this book extremely validating, inspiring, and deflating. Validating because I now have clear evidence that a culture similar to the Cooperative Leadership model our Command Triad at NIOC Pensacola has been facilitating works in a tactical environment. It is inspiring because I love learning from, with, and through others and Captain Marquet has clearly articulated a culture worth emulating and I hope becomes a required reading at Command Leadership School for all COs, XOs, and CMDCMs. It is deflating because this is the book I would have attempted to write, though his is undoubtedly much better. Congratulations to Captain Marquet for paving the way and for the future Commanding Officers who care enough to follow his lead and adopt the Leader-Leader philosophy. If I am fortunate enough to get another opportunity to Command, a copy of this book for each Officer and Chief will precede my arrival...
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