Turn the ship around book summary

David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders is one part biography, one part self-improvement, and one part business advice. Marquet was a long-time Navy officer and the newly appointed captain of the U.S.S. Sante Fe when he deliberately gave an impossible order, just to test his soldiers. When they, as expected, followed it without question, Marquet realized that he was leading a culture of followers.

Marquet immediately set out to cultivate leadership at all levels – and in doing so he ultimately raised the status of the Santa Fe from a struggling ship to an award-winning operation. The military is typically a place in which the culture dictates that some people are followers and other people are leaders. Marquet discovered, though, that increasing the responsibility and decision-making abilities of the “followers” actually made them better at what they did. Marquet discovered the value of leadership traits at all levels of a hierarchy – a valuable discovery that has immediate implications for the business world. Marquet

In addition to telling his own story, Marquet provides clear steps for empowering the workers at any organization. He tells how to promote proactivity, reverse a demoralized culture, enhance teamwork, minimize errors, eliminate top-down monitoring, and embed learning everywhere. In combination, these tips can help you transform any culture of followers into a productive, proactive culture of leaders. Although the Navy is clearly a place for good leadership, you might never expect it to be a place where everybody is treated as a leader. Marquet explains, though, that if that is a possibility in the Navy, it is certainly a possibility in your organization or business as well.

In addition to explaining how to bring out the leadership qualities in others, though, Marquet also explains what traits to cultivate in yourself to make yourself a better leader. The roles of curiosity, control, competence, and clarity are all discussed in Marquet’s book.

Marquet’s book has become a bestseller and Stephen Covery – author of the esteemed book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – said, “I don’t know of a finer model of this kind of empowering leadership than Captain Marquet.” Fortune ranked it as a number one must-read business book and it has been ranked number one in leadership and management books on Amazon. Best of all, though, this book has a particularly engaging story that comes along with all the great leadership advice.