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Turn the Ship Around!

A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders
Written by: L. David Marquet
Narrated by: L. David Marquet
Length: 6 hrs and 27 mins
5 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Leadership should mean giving control rather than taking control and creating leaders rather than forging followers."

David Marquet, an experienced Navy officer, was used to giving orders. As newly appointed captain of the USS Santa Fe, a nuclear-powered submarine, he was responsible for more than a hundred sailors, deep in the sea. In this high-stress environment, where there is no margin for error, it was crucial his men did their job and did it well. But the ship was dogged by poor morale, poor performance, and the worst retention in the fleet.

Marquet acted like any other captain until, one day, he unknowingly gave an impossible order, and his crew tried to follow it anyway. When he asked why the order wasn’t challenged, the answer was, "Because you told me to." Marquet realized he was leading in a culture of followers, and they were all in danger unless they fundamentally changed the way they did things.

That’s when Marquet took matters into his own hands and pushed for leadership at every level. Turn the Ship Around! is the true story of how the Santa Fe skyrocketed from worst to first in the fleet by challenging the U.S. 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.

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 fully engaged, contributing their full intellectual capacity every day, and the Santa Fe started winning awards and promoting a highly disproportionate number of officers to submarine command.

No matter your business or position, you can apply Marquet’s radical guidelines to turn your own ship around. The payoff: a workplace where everyone around you is taking responsibility for their actions, where people are healthier and happier, where everyone is a leader.

©2013 L David Marquet (P)2013 Gildan Media LLC

Critic Reviews

"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)
"David Marquet is the kind of leader who comes around only once in a generation. He 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)

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I am stunned with new approach. Thanks

This book was recommended by our VP to give example to take responsibility of our own actions and work as team to achieve organisational goal. Now after reading this book I can understand that any organisation can really turn around if it’s members have confidence and clarity of work to be done by individuals. Really nice work and kept me till grooved till last chapter. Thanks.

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immersive and deep!!

great narration with practical insights from a transformation intuitively created through true leadership across the organization

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Turn the ship around, not with levers but minds

Most of us believe it's those levers and hydraulics that turns the ship around, but it's only less than a half true. It's the minds and beliefs of the people whose hands operate those levers are what makes the ship turn around. Focus not on the levers but the beliefs and thought process of the minds and that will give amazing results. Thanks David for your story.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Bret
  • 26-07-13

Can't wait to put this to work-track needs editing

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not only educational, but entertaining. I definitely think this was time well spent.

Any additional comments?

The audio track needs to be re-edited. The cuts often resulted in repeated words or phrases, indicating that an editor needs to take a listen and re-splice the track.

39 people found this helpful

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  • Buddha Weatherby
  • 02-09-15

Phenomenally Enlightened Leadership

I served 4 years each with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army and this just became one of my favorite books on leadership . (I have read hundreds.)

This book demonstrates the potential of unleashing and supporting dedicated, but otherwise normal people to achieve their missions, without unnecessary friction to impede them. I have previously only known of this style of leadership through emancipation in small elite teams and task forces.

It is fascinating to learn how well it worked on the scale of an entire submarine crew. Captain Marquet's turn-around story for his crew is quite exemplary.

I also recommend The Mission, The Men, and Me; as well as, Team of Teams. They cover much of the same ground from very different angles.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Kristin
  • 08-05-15

Great book but fire the audio technician

I highly recommend this book to managers (especially those in the Department of Defense); however, having paragraphs repeated sometimes was annoying. The audio production could definitely be improved. The author made up for any shortcomings he had as a reader by being totally engaged with the text.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Bryon E Brandt
  • 02-12-15

Becoming a Leader That Others Want To Follow

When I read this book it felt like it was my psychic biography. I wasn't a nuclear submarine captain, but I did train Iraqi soldiers in Iraq with similar results from similar techniques and thought processes about what people are capable of with the right leadership.

If you want to achieve more, because your people achieve more, this is the book for you.

But it does seem like a bit of a conundrum, that if you apply what David teaches, that you likely become a leader that others want to follow, even though this isn't the intent of his Leader-Leader, leaders-at-every level model.

Though, if you continue grow and develop the people under and around you, this will only be a temporary plateau as they continue to grow into their full fullness and potential as leaders in their own right.

This book means so much to me, and is such a nice alternative to the all too common and sub-optimizing command and control, that I share it with almost everyone I know.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Gerardo A Dada
  • 10-05-14

The Best Leadership Book I've Read

There are many leadership books that have lots of great quotations, thoughts and intellectually rich thoughts with a few examples.

This book is different. It is told as a story. A real world-story that illustrates the challenges, the tension between the old and the new ways of doing things, the risks, the necessary managing up , and the results of 'leader-leader' leadership style.

It is a fun book to read, full of practical knowledge. Almost like a real-world fable.

If you manage teams or if you aspire to be a great leader, this is the book you should get first. It has the power of changing an entire organization.

6 people found this helpful

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  • J te A
  • 17-02-15

Business Change in a Navy Setting

Great business story about a real fundamental cultural change aboard a submarine. The story takes the reader through the change - for which nobody, least the commander, is prepared. A dilemma? Of course, so that is why the book stays so interesting to the end. True story. Scary though that the original Navy-culture was so .... 1950's-like (to me). Good narration, fu read. Awesome if you are into organizational change and any liking with submarines or ships in general.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-05-17

Excellence

Woven into the engaging story are pearls of leadership wisdom. The listener does not have to recall isolated ideas but is shown how to accomplish the demonstrated leadership objectives. Delivery by the narrator is perfect.

1 person found this helpful

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  • David B. Waples
  • 23-07-15

Management theory put to work in a real world situation

What made this book special to me is that it was read by the author who has great passion for the leadership methods implemented on USS Santa Fe. I highly recommend this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-08-15

Great book with some technical issues

If you could sum up Turn the Ship Around! in three words, what would they be?

I am considering making this required reading for everyone in my organization. This book along with a handful of others have served as a "rudder" for our management style. Getting the whole team to invest in the Leader, leader model is the real challenge. I believe, as Marquet suggests, that if we accomplish this in our firm, the sky is the limit.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew Person
  • 16-05-20

if you are or were in the military, read it

Good reading for military personnel. some of this translates into civilian world
hope you enjoy

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  • Steven
  • 03-06-18

Compelling story of leadership at all levels

Really engaging use of story and anecdote to present principles and mechanisms of leadership and effective teamwork in an unpredictable world. The ideas feel immediately relevant to me in my work as an Agile Process Coach (helping businesses and teams find more effective ways to work with each other). The advice here seems both aspiratoinal and realistic.

I found this book via a reference in Mike Burrows' Agendashift book, which offers a practical set of workshops with a similar "end in mind".

I'm new to spoken books, and found that listening at 1.35x speed (on the Android app) or 1.5x (in the browser player) worked best for me. I'm not sure if David Marquet is a particularly slow narrator, but it's great that the Audible player has the option to speed up easily. Good to hear the author narrating his own ideas.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Kevin Thomas
  • 20-01-19

Don’t Empower, Emancipate!

Great reminder of the truth of empowerment and coaching, but the bit that struck me is in my headline. Empowerment implies giving power, emancipation is a level above

4 people found this helpful

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  • CGM
  • 10-09-19

excellent book but some repetitive sections

excellent book but some repetitions in the recording. this should have been checked by Audible prior to upload. otherwise 5stars.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alex Wolf
  • 21-07-15

Holacracy at it's best

If you could sum up Turn the Ship Around! in three words, what would they be?

Practical, Applicable, Provocative

What did you like best about this story?

Real life example of how a leadership model removed hierarchical order in a world where historically hierarchy is the only way the military has operated in. The journey of David Marquet including lessons learnt from the mistakes made - an honest appraisal of a Captains journey to successfully 'turn the ship around'

Which character – as performed by L. David Marquet – was your favourite?

David Marquet himself

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes - I listened to this over two days while travelling by train around the country

Any additional comments?

All leaders should read this book. An alternative view of how to effectively run a team. I would also recommend listening toHolacracy by Brian Robertson as a great companion to this book

1 person found this helpful

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  • Zara
  • 23-05-20

A must read for all team leaders!

This book is concise and packed with useful guidence on how to movitvate people, reduce process and maximise output.

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  • AA
  • 08-05-20

Great and inspirational story

Loved this book. I finished the audiobook in 2 sittings. Recommend this to everyone who is thinking to lead people.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-02-20

Fantastic book, great examples

Enjoyed learning about the Leader Leader approach vs. Leader Follower and the benefits it delivers. The lessons are relevant to business and not just the military.

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  • habab Mohd Mustafa
  • 18-02-20

Brilliant!

if you aspire to be a leader of value this book is a must. Brilliant!

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  • Graeme Edwards
  • 20-01-20

Great book and well laid out

A good story told well and very clear and relatable to ‘office life’. The leader-leader principle is explained well and each chapter has a good summary and ‘checklist’ making it easy to transpose everything back into the workplace. I enjoyed this and I also enjoyed the narration by the author himself.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-01-20

Inspiring story on how to lead!

The principles and mechanisms mentioned in the book are worth implementing in every team! Great!

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  • Jasmine Walker
  • 21-05-20

easy read with good Info

great for walking you through a new empowering way of thinking.. I read it with a household and teen boys in mind and I am glad I did.

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  • Paul Marais
  • 28-04-20

Absolutely revolutionary!

Will read this book again and again. So many principles that are desperately needed in every organization.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-03-20

Better than expected

This was easy listening on the work commute. Interesting leadership information and enjoyed learning about submarines along the way. Was getting a bit repetitive though with “does your organisation...?”

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  • Becci
  • 12-01-20

Comfort in a kindred spirit

Thank you for having the courage to share your journey, the learnings, the highs and the lows. I am inspired to continue this behaviour with my teams knowing I am not alone. This book has also helped me clarify how I lead so I can ramp up my mentoring.

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  • Louis
  • 18-07-19

Brilliant book

really good book, all leaders or those aspiring should listen to it, read well and set out well for easy understanding

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-06-19

Facinating

Great reading with real life examples and a unique perspective from 10 years after the fact.

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  • Lance Swift
  • 15-10-18

great story. Audio production was poor though

interesting story, spoiled by the poor editing of the content. too many times the flow was disturbed by repeat sentences that should have been edited out

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  • Richard
  • 05-10-17

Wow! A great story with real lessons to be learned.

The book is both entertaining and very insightful. I picked up a number of new strategies to apply in my own workplace.

I really like the fact that David Marquet is also the narrator. You get to feel like you really know him.

The book is a great complementary read for those that enjoyed Dr Stephen R Covey’s 7 Habits and 8th Habit books.

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  • Andrew
  • 31-05-17

Great read

outstanding book. so many takeaways and thought provoking commentary. highly recommended for anyone in an organisation - especially those with management acne leadership responsibilities

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  • ELTON
  • 16-07-16

Some great leadership options

This book gives some great options to empower staff and allow them to perform as well as they want. Having the author as narrator gives an important connection.