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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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Bret
  • SOUTH BERWICK, ME, United States
  • 07-26-13

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.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Good example of cultural change.

Learned a lot about the Navy and its ways. Like any major institution, its ways are often deeply engrained in its culture. This is an example on how to improve effectiveness, staying with the original principles of the institution. The implementation of empowerment in the Navy is not something that can be "planned and executed", it must be experienced and tried in order to take place. This is a great achievement and thank you David for sharing how such a process can take place in any "institutionalized" organization, basicly any midsized or larger organization. Another main perspective of the book is about personal leadership. Read it ( or listen to the audio) and become inspired, this is not an easy thing, but maybe more natural than it seems. Clear narration with perfect intonations by the author himself, I enjoyed the submarine stories too!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Gerardo
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 05-10-14

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Brilliant

must read for managers. recommend reading as a team. left feeling inspired at the real life examples.

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  • Alex Wolf
  • 07-21-15

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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • CS
  • 11-07-17

Very interesting approaches to growing a team

Very interesting story of Initial set backs and determination leading to the growth of an unfortunately rare and unique team dynamic.

If anyone applied just one of the key takeaways from this book, I am certain it will have a positive effect on team morale.

The information was conveyed brilliantly with the interesting tale of the Santa Fe. This would have been an interesting listen without the emphasis on how techniques can be applied transitively.

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  • Charlene Allison
  • 11-06-17

Very Interesting Book on Leadership

Someone recommended this book - not personally to me - but I decided to buy it. The book wasn't really for me or what I was looking for, however, it gave an interesting insight into leadership in the Navy. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to develop a leader-leader instead of a leader-follower in their organisation.

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  • william king
  • 10-08-17

A Journey from Command and Control to Agile Leader

This book is well written. It takes you through the authors journey of being in the Navy and very much a command and control leadership culture. To where the author wanted to be, trust the people with the knowledge to do the job, the 'how'.

Another great read for those who are on the journey of becoming a good to great leader.

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  • Sven
  • 10-06-17

Good insight but narration let it down

The content of this book is excellent and the journey of changing the processes and attitude in a highly hierarchical structure was fascinating.
However the narration made it less engaging as it felt very monotonous and thereby difficult to keep engaged.

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  • Mr. Anthony G. Ballin
  • 07-18-17

Very informative,

having now listened three times and each time picked up something else and now I find myself trying to think things over again from a different angle.

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  • michael throckmorton
  • 07-13-17

Great study on the concept and practical exercise of leadership

The best leadership book I've read yet. The overall story is entertaining, honest, relatable, and detailed. This is a great look at improved leadership concepts with practical experiences at the micro and macro levels. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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  • Alex
  • 01-21-17

Not sure if it's because of me or the book, but...

Not sure if it's because of me or the book, but didn't quite caught me. The story is good and the voice also, but the pace of speaking is not my kind. Overall, for me, value for money regarding this book is so and so.

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  • mp
  • 09-09-16

An excellent book.

An amazing book with a fantastically presented a true leadership experience. Thank you to the author for the time and effort to write this great book.

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  • BD
  • 06-29-16

Great alternate view of the "leader"

I enjoyed this book and Marquet gave some great ideas for applying various ways of thinking to leadership

Some of the concepts are quite profound and I liked the link with some of the 7 Habits by Stephen Covey, although in a non-technical industry I found it hard to think of how to apply things like deliberate action and so on

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  • Richard
  • 10-05-17

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-31-17

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
  • 07-16-16

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.

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  • Mahmoud
  • 03-24-16

Very inspiring for leaders

if a leader's goal is continuous and sustainable long term improvement, this book is a good place to start

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  • Tim
  • 07-30-15

releasing power

loved it. Hoping to follow the ways to better encourage other people to attain control. ultimately leave the organization better.

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  • John
  • 07-11-15

Hugely uplifting and inspiring

The narrative allowed the listener to appreciate that the development of the leader-leader management style was born out of a combination of necessity and the application of a profound respect and desire to improve the quality of the human interaction between team members.
I chose this book because I was seeking to draw on the military management techniques to achieve a greater control of my direct reports in my corporate endeavours. I was surprised by having my preconceived notions overturned.
The book provokes deeper thinking.
Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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  • R. M. Chesney
  • 03-03-15

Fantastic, a must read for any leader.

This book tells of the actual challenges with implementing a change. Good sound advice. Excellent