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

4.3 (246 ratings)
12 mins

Brief summary

Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet is a leadership book that narrates the author's journey as a commanding officer and how he transformed his submarine crew into leaders who think and act for themselves.

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    Turn the Ship Around
    Summary of 5 key ideas

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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.

    Turn the Ship Around Review

    Turn the Ship Around (2013) is a captivating book that offers valuable insights into leadership and empowerment. Here's why you should read it:

    • With the compelling story of the author's experiences as a submarine commander, the book provides practical lessons on how to shift from a hierarchical to a more autonomous leadership style.
    • The book emphasizes the importance of creating a culture of ownership and accountability, allowing teams to think and act independently, resulting in improved performance and morale.
    • Through real-world examples and actionable strategies, the book demonstrates the power of empowering individuals at all levels of an organization, making it an engaging and thought-provoking read.

    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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    Turn the Ship Around FAQs 

    What is the main message of Turn the Ship Around?

    The main message of Turn the Ship Around is empowering leaders to create a culture of ownership and excellence.

    How long does it take to read Turn the Ship Around?

    The reading time for Turn the Ship Around varies, but it generally takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Turn the Ship Around a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Turn the Ship Around is worth reading because it offers valuable insights on leadership and provides actionable strategies for creating high-performance teams.

    Who is the author of Turn the Ship Around?

    The author of Turn the Ship Around is L. David Marquet.

    What to read after Turn the Ship Around?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Turn the Ship Around, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Leadership Is Language by David Marquet
    • The Wisdom of the Bullfrog by Admiral William H. McRaven
    • Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal with Tantum Collins
    • Learning Leadership by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
    • Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman & Raj Sisodia
    • Quiet by Susan Cain
    • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
    • Give and Take by Adam Grant
    • Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
    • Start With Why (new version) by Simon Sinek