A couple of years ago, I was in the middle of facilitating a workshop for leaders on building accountability in their organizations. At one point in the afternoon, one of the participants walked up to me during a break and said that the material we were covering reminded him of a video he had seen recently where a submarine captain stopped giving orders.
I had been talking to executives for years about the need to change their approach in the face of the changing workplace. Old methods that included lots of ‘telling’ were becoming less and less effective. Employees crave autonomy, competence and relatedness. So, what better place than a nuclear submarine to test a different way of leading?
For a full year, former submarine Captain David Marquet studied the technical aspects of a certain class of sub. Several weeks before taking command, his orders changed and he would now be leading a crew on a different class of sub. To make matters worse, this ship was the worst performing sub in the fleet.
Marquet quickly discovered that his old way of leading wasn’t going to work after the crew tried to implement several mis-directed orders. When he asked them why they did this, the answer was predictable: “Because you told us to!”
In my latest podcast, I have the pleasure of interviewing Marquet about his best-selling book, Turn the Ship Around – A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders. Some quick highlights…
- He first realized that his form of leadership ‘worked’ when 10 of his officers were promoted to captain!
- When you tell employees what to do or solve their problems, you deprive them of the opportunity to think and learn.
- Leaders often send signals that they are the ‘thinkers’ and everyone else is just a ‘doer.’
- Intent-Based Leadership forces more conversations and better communication.
- Curiosity helps leaders uncover what they’re not seeing.
If you want to be a better leader and leave a more positive legacy, don’t miss this podcast.