Turn the Ship Around Book Summary - Turn the Ship Around Book explained in key points
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Turn the Ship Around summary

L. David Marquet

A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders

4.4 (189 ratings)
12 mins
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    Turn the Ship Around
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    The United States is facing a crisis of leadership, and this is bad news for business.

    Be honest: Do you like your job? If you answered “no,” you’re not alone.

    Job satisfaction in the United States is at an all-time low. From 2004 to 2012, less than half of U.S. workers considered themselves satisfied with their jobs; in 2009, a Conference Board Survey showed worker satisfaction to be at its lowest rate ever.

    Dissatisfaction in the workforce isn’t the only trend that’s emerged in recent years. We’ve also witnessed a considerable drop in productivity, with up to $300 billion lost due to productivity issues in the United States alone.

    Times have also been tough for those outside the workforce, as U.S. unemployment sat at 9 percent for a record 31 months, up until November 2011.

    The symptoms, a doctor might say, are bad. Yet before they worsen, it’s crucial that we work out where the illness actually is. To do so, we’ve got to examine the structure of organizations themselves.

    For centuries, we fashioned our organizations according to a particular style of leadership. The Egyptians harnessed it to build the pyramids; this strategy also drove the Industrial Revolution.

    We’re talking about the leader-follower approach, where decisions are made by a leader (a boss) and carried out by followers (the workers).

    A leader-follower system is perfectly suited for work requiring physical labor, allowing menial tasks to be delegated among many individuals to increase efficiency. However, many more jobs today are dominated by cognitive tasks and decision-making, not at all suitable for a “follower” workforce.

    As a result, the leader-follower approach is ill-suited to the times. Think of it this way: it’s a great strategy for building pyramids, but not for operating a nuclear-powered submarine or even starting a technology business!

    To truly empower workers, we need to overhaul our idea of leadership. Find out how we start in the next blink.

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    What is Turn the Ship Around about?

    Turn the Ship Around reveals the story of how one United States Navy captain managed to turn a dissatisfied submarine crew into a formidable and respected team. But how did he do it? By changing the way we think about leadership, this story will show you that inside, we all have the power to be leaders.

    Best quote from Turn the Ship Around

    What do you do on board?...Whatever the hell they tell me to. – First class petty officer aboard the USS Santa Fe, in response to the author.

    —L. David Marquet
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    Who should read Turn the Ship Around?

    • Anyone interested in leadership issues in the military
    • Business leaders looking for ways to improve productivity
    • Anyone wondering how to break rigid hierarchy in their organization

    About the Author

    David Marquet graduated at the top of his class from the U.S. Naval Academy before commanding  from 1999 to 2001 the USS Santa Fe, a nuclear-powered, fast attack submarine. Marquet now works as a leadership consultant and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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