The ninth book on your punch list is Turn The Ship Around!, telling the true story of how Captain David Marquet turned the worst-performing submarine, USS Sante Fe, into the best of its fleet in less than a year. 


Turn The Ship Around! provides a new mode for leading a team called the “leader-leader” model; this approach that can be implemented in any company to tap into the potential of people at any level. 

To adopt the leader-leader approach successfully, you must incorporate three essential elements: Control, Competence, and Clarity. At the heart of this model lies decentralized control, but its effectiveness hinges on the presence of Competence and Clarity. Without these two foundational pillars, decentralizing control can result in disorder and confusion. When all three components are effectively integrated, they synergistically reinforce each other, creating a positive feedback loop.


Control pertains to the autonomy and authority to determine the reasons, objectives, and methods of one’s work. The objective is to distribute decision-making authority as widely as possible within the organization. If you’re interested in exploring various methods to decentralize control, such as revising control policies, fostering mindset shifts through behavior, openly discussing thought processes, and conducting regular check-ins to align and educate individuals, this book is for you.


In order for decentralized control to be effective, individuals at all levels must possess the technical expertise necessary to make sound decisions. If you delegate additional responsibilities to individuals without equipping them with the requisite knowledge and resources, the system will falter. In the book, Marquet delves into a variety of tools and techniques to enhance technical competence across all levels, including promoting deliberate action, embracing continuous learning, prioritizing certifications over briefings, and focusing on defining goals rather than methods. 


To enable individuals at all levels to make informed decisions, they must be fully aligned with the organization’s mission and have a comprehensive understanding of its objectives and decision-making criteria. The book explores a range of strategies to cultivate clarity, foster trust, inspire individuals, and establish clear guiding principles at all organizational levels.


It’s crucial to recognize that our subconscious tendency to categorize individuals as either leaders or followers, along with the associated assumptions, can significantly shape our perceptions and behaviors, ultimately impacting both individual employee performance and the overall success of the organization. To gain deeper insights and discover effective strategies for challenging and reshaping these ingrained beliefs, I highly recommend reading the book.

For More Information:

L. David Marquet is a top graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the commander of the USS Santa Fe submarine from 1999 to 2001. Under his leadership, Santa Fe was transformed from the worst-performing submarine in its fleet to the best. After serving with the U.S. submarine force for 28 years, Marquet retired from the navy and has since been working as a leadership consultant. His book is packed with anecdotes about the navy and his personal reflections. For more, visit

Modern Contractor Solutions, September 2023
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