IMD International

Giving away control on a nuclear submarine

IMD Global Leaders Signature Series to feature David Marquet

November 6, 2014

Former US Navy Captain David Marquet will come to IMD on December 10 to describe how his counterintuitive leadership style turned a nuclear submarine around—and how we can apply his winning model to our own professional and personal lives.

Marquet's presentation on "Counterintuitive Leadership" will be followed by an audience dialogue moderated by Professor George Kohlrieser, director of IMD's High Performance Leadership (HPL) program.

The event is the latest in IMD's Global Leaders Signature Series, which has previously featured figures such as Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett and Daniel Goleman.

Giving away control on a nuclear submarine sounds like a risky way to empower people, promote engagement and reach the highest levels of performance. However, for Marquet it was the turning point in an amazing leadership journey that has lessons for all of us.

When Marquet took over the USS Santa Fe, the submarine was ranked last in the US Navy in crew retention, morale, and operational readiness. By the time he left, it was ranked No. 1. And after his departure, the submarine continued to win awards and promote a highly disproportionate number of officers and enlisted men, including 10 subsequent submarine captains.

Marquet didn't turn the submarine around by the traditional command and control method of giving orders. Quite the opposite. Counterintuitively, he stopped giving orders, and instead gave away control. He expected each crew member to be a leader instead of a follower, took their training to new levels of high performance, and expected them to hold their teams fully accountable. He released their passion, initiative, and leadership potential, and enabled them to achieve outstanding results.

After retiring from the Navy in 2009, Marquet described his counterintuitive leadership style in the Amazon #1 Best Seller "Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders". Fortune magazine named it the #1 must read business book of 2012 and called it the "best how-to-manual anywhere for managers on delegating, training, and driving flawless execution."

On December 10 Marquet will share his insights into how to drive change, build leadership culture, develop leadership talent, and inspire. He will also discuss how leaders create leaders.

To learn more about the event and register, please click here.

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