Welcome to our interview with David Marquet. David is the author of Turn the Ship Around, Leadership Expert and Former Nuclear Submarine Captain. You can learn more about David at Intent-Based Leadership.
I first learned of David Marquet and his work in 2012 when I read his article A Submarine Captain on the Power of Leadership Language in Fast Company magazine. After reading his book, I wrote a blog post for the Lead Change Group about what I had learned. Shortly thereafter, I met David Marquet when he visited the Washington, DC area. We hosted a leadership event with David where he was enthusiastically embraced by a packed auditorium of governement leaders and business executives.
Welcome, David, and thank you for contributing to the questions that are at the heart of Forward Thinking Workplaces 2.0.
How can we create workplaces where more voices matter, people thrive and find meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
David Marquet: My short answer is that we give people more control. It’s all about giving control. Anytime you give control, it’s giving control within structure and giving control within bounds. But fundamentally it’s all about giving people control. Control over how they work, where they work, and what they work on.Give people more control. Control over how they work, where they work, and what they work on.
We all know the situation where the leader gave an order and there’s this foreboding sense of this is perhaps not right or maybe we’ll get away with it. Then the organization does it and then it turns out that people die. It’s a legitimate fear. I tell people you don’t need to be pushed into it out of fear, I hope you are not. I much rather you see this as “the light on the hill” and move in that direction not from a place of fear but from a place of aspiration.