David Marquet knew he had a problem with leadership on his nuclear submarine when he gave an order to a junior commander that couldn’t be accomplished.
Marquet, author of the awardwinning book Turn the Ship Around! and a former captain of the fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe, said he ordered that his vessel shift into a higher gear and his subordinate didn’t question the command, even though he knew it couldn’t be done.
The incident radically changed the way Marquet approached leadership issues and was instrumental in his decision to begin challenging the age-old style of command in which some people give orders and others follow those orders without question.
As a result, his crew went from being "worst to first" in the American submarine fleet.
The ship had a disproportionate number of its officers and enlisted men promoted to positions of increased responsibility, including 10 who went on to become submarine captains themselves. Marquet retired from the navy in 2009 and has focused much of his efforts on "turning followers into leaders" ever since with his book and travelling the world talking to business groups, universities and other organizations who want to learn more about his style of leadership.
He will be in Nanaimo on Feb. 19 to speak at the Port Theatre in an event sponsored primarily by the Nanaimo Daily News and the Coastal Community Credit Union.
Marquet’s presentation, called "Creating Leadership at Every Level," is the latest in a series of leadership initiatives that is being sponsored by the Daily News and other community groups.
"Fundamentally, most of us have a picture of leadership that has been around for centuries in which some people take control and give all the orders," Marquet told the Daily News from New York.
"But I’ve discovered it’s far better to ask people what they think should be done and provide input instead of just being told what to do. It’s a far more effective style of leadership."
Tickets to attend Marquet’s presentation are $44 and are available at the Port Theatre.