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Publisher's Summary

“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 US 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.

©2021 L. David Marquet and Stephen R. Covey (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"The best how-to manual anywhere for managers on delegating, training and driving flawless execution." (Fortune Magazine)

"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

What listeners say about Turn the Ship Around!

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Creating Leadership and Competence at All Levels

[Reviewer’s note: I have been an active Audible listener since 2018 with 671 titles in my library. I have rarely written a review, yet I have purchased a good many books based upon reviews and an equal number I passed on and did not purchase based on reviews. This review is my way of saying thanks to many reviewers for sharing their perspectives.]

L. David Marquet’s experience as a submarine officer is well documented in Turn the Ship Around! – his experience as the Commanding Officer of the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763), a Los Angeles class attack submarine, homeported in Pearl Harbor Hawaii.

As a career Naval Officer and Naval Aviator, myself, flying in eight squadrons, it didn’t take long into the book for me to discover that Marquet was an officer of tremendous self-awareness, high technical competence, and a keen appreciation for the needs of both the ship’s mission and her crew.

Yet he bucked tradition by transforming a leader-follower approach to leadership and management to a leader-leader model, instilling competence, confidence, and courage throughout all levels of his command. His approach was not a fluffy empowerment approach, lacking attention to the details and the potential dangers of operating a nuclear-powered submarine with deadly weapons. Rather, through each evolution of both preparing to go to sea, and executing operational tasking, he brought out the best in his crew (individually and collectively) by stressing a learning approach, honest dialogue, and a continuous review of organizational competence.

In his honest words, he shares with the reader the risks and challenges he was facing (and his own mistakes) as he radically changed an old leadership paradigm, enhancing crew alignment, job satisfaction, and taking organizational performance to new heights. He called it Intent-Based Leadership.

Yet, how applicable are the lessons he teaches to other organizations and businesses outside of the United States Navy? In each chapter he begins with questions as well as ending the chapter with questions. Having served myself in the Navy, in Fortune 500 companies, and at several major universities, he very clearly brings back the ongoing lessons aboard Santa Fe for leaders and organizations of all sizes and missions. The questions he asks are alone worth much more than the price of the book. And his approach is not some “leadership fad of the moment.” We can all learn a lot from David Marquet. But I will add a cautionary note: don’t read or listen to this book unless you sense that things truly need to change for the better for the organization, company, or mission you serve. Yet, if you do, and if you can rally support around Marquet’s practical and inspirational approach to true cultural change and organizational competence, then you will have truly turned things around.

(Marquet’s voicing of his own book is excellent).

Commander/United States Navy (ret.)

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Should be in every leader's library

Highly engaging and enlightening from beginning to end. I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone looking to be a stronger leader.

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Fantastic

Great story with a powerful message on leadership and empowerment philosophy. great tools for any leader.

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I Intent To

I intend to listen to this book several more times, while simultaneously applying its principles to my personal and work life.

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I tried

Very poor narration with a subject matter that is wholly unrelatable. Extremely difficult listen.

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love it... Leader / Leader

loved it. applied for Supervisor. I'm ready to Lead.. You continue to read his books.

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Overall a great book. Beyond giving mandate.

The book Builds up through a story that's good, and shows that it takes hard work being a manager.
Coming from the agile development area I liked this book and are happy to not have to invent everything the author had to do.
My biggest learning is that I want to strive to go beyond giving mandate.

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Amazing book! Amazing leadership style!

Absolutely worth the read!!! Amazing leadership points! Well worth the read! Can’t wait to dive into some of the references mentioned!

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Entertaining & Informative

Great stories that engage & inspire are the hallmark of great leaders/teachers/mentors. This book was well-organized. informative, & gave practical applications as well as deep dive questions. What better way to inspire any organization to achieve its goals & inspire its people throughout generations of commabd/leadership. Thank you, Captain Marquette & those who inspired & mentored you!

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Great read!!!

This was a thought provoking story about turning followers into leaders. With every chapter, we saw how he was able to take long held beliefs, cultures and norms in the Navy and turn them on their head in order to engage and motivate. This was a well written story and one that I will use to help me in my organization.