Sunday, January 10, 2016

A great leadership story about using all the brains you can borrow

At my local public library I just found and skimmed through L. David Marquet’s 2012 book, Turn the ship around! A true story of turning followers into leaders. It’s a great story about when he was assigned as captain of the U.S.S. Santa Fe, a Los Angeles class nuclear attack submarine with a less than stellar record. You can watch a ten-minute animated YouTube video titled What is Leadership that presents the main point of his story. At 6:40 he says that:

“....On another submarine there was one guy in charge, one guy giving orders, one guy thinking, and 134 people dong what they were told. I don’t care how smart you are. On my submarine I got 135 thinking, active, passionate, creative, proactive, taking initiative people. It’s a tidal wave. You don’t stand a chance!” 

You can also watch an 18-minute TEDx talk he gave at Scott Air Force Base titled How Great Leaders Serve Others. At five minutes into that talk he describes getting a moment of clarity from giving an order that could not be followed. That incident also is described in an article at Fast Company titled A submarine captain on the power of leadership language. Captain Marquet has both a web site and a blog.

What Marquet has described is how to achieve what he calls Leader-Leader management rather than Leader-Follower management typical of military organizations, particularly those depending on conscripts.

A table on page 205 of his book compares Leader-Follower and Leader-Leader styles. A slightly rearranged version of it is shown above. (Click on it for a larger, clearer view).

Back in the 1960s Douglas McGregor discussed how there were two management theories - Theory X and Theory Y. The Wikipedia article about them says:

“Theory X considers that on the whole, workers dislike their work, and have little inherent motivation to perform well. Therefore, if organizational goals are to be met, 'Theory X' managers must rely heavily on detailed rules and instructions, on close monitoring, and on the threat of punishment to gain employee compliance.

....Theory Y, in contrast, is based on the belief that, given appropriate working conditions, most people perform well. The worker is considered as the most important asset of the company. It is believed that workers can derive satisfaction from their physical and mental work, viewing it as a game or as something to be enjoyed.”

Early in 2015 Marquet published another book titled Turn Your Ship Around!: A Workbook for Implementing Intent-Based Leadership in Your Organization.

Back on June 14, 2008 I blogged about how Woodrow Wilson had said that:

“I use not only all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.”

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