In the book Turn the Ship Around, Captain L. David Marquet describes how he took the submarine, the USS Santa Fe, from “worst to first” in the United States fleet by transforming the leadership structure from “leader-follower” to “leader-leader.”
The author divides the book into four sections. In the first section, Captain Marquet describes how he first experienced being empowered by his commander Captain Pelaez of the USS Sunfish. Captain Pelaez overheard the author observe that it would be helpful if they could “ping” a merchant ship using active sonar for training. Knowing that his permission was needed to go active, Captain Pelaez suggested that Marquet merely make his intention known to him. The result of having the authority and ability to develop his team’s training resulted in a paradigm shift about effective leadership for the author.
Marquet was then assigned to the USS Will Rogers as the engineer officer. Eager to implement his new ideas, Marquet executed a plan to give control to the members of his engineering department, rather than orders. Unfortunately, his experiment was a profound failure. There were numerous embarrassing errors that occurred as a direct result of relinquishing control to make decisions to the men under his command. Instead of motivating the men, they complained that they missed the former engineer who would just tell them what to do. Ultimately, Marquet took back decision-making control from his division officers. When his time on the USS Will Rogers ended, Marquet spent time analyzing why the situation on the USS Will Rogers ended so badly. He concluded that an empowerment program would not work within a leader-follower organizational structure.
When Marquet was unexpectedly given command of the USS Santa Fe he chose to retain all the crew members, even though the Santa Fe was considered the laughingstock of the Navy. He wanted the crew to understand that they were not the problem; instead, the problem was the leadership. Given the directive to prepare the Santa Fe for deployment, Captain Marquet saw this as an opportunity to drastically create change by instituting a plan of leadership where the crew would have more opportunities for