I heard this book recommended by Simon Sinek (Start With Why) and that was enough to persuade me to read it. For those who don’t like suspense, I’ll start with the punchline: read it.
I have read other books about what Marquet calls the ‘leader-leader’ paradigm (Multipliers, for a start), but this is systematic, clear, devoid of theoretical kite flying and refreshingly practical. Marquet tells us what he did, and why he did it. He had to take over a nuclear submarine, the performance of which had been rock bottom, and he had six months to turn it into a highly effective fighting force. That he chose to do so in a way which went totally against the culture of the US Navy, and that he got backing to do so, is remarkable. For me the one issue which is not unpacked in the book is that Marquet was clearly line-managed by a commander who was willing to let him impose his own leadership (non) style. The bracketed word will make sense after you have read the book.
Two tips for those who take my advice and read this book: look out for the phrase ‘I intend to...’ and note the careful intentionality of the way in which all his reports were expected to do their jobs. The fact that giving away power, taking away control, led to both being as much in evidence is one of those marvellous paradoxes of human behaviour. This is a real must-read for those who lead organisations, of whatever size.
One word of caution - I always start books of this sort with a determination to read them for the nuggets. Most books on how to lead or manage better have a small number of superb tips. This is no exception: don’t be disappointed by all the things that don’t transfer from a nuclear submarine to your organisation.
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