Archive for the Naval Leadership Category

A New Method of Resupplying ~ Putting “I intend to…” into Action

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Another excerpt fromTurn The Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level, By L. David Marquet, Captain, U.S. Navy (retired), published by Greenleaf Book Group LLC, released today, August 1, 2012:

For context, read the post, “I intend to…,” before reading this excerpt.

Chapter 28

“A New Method of Resupplying”

A submarine at dawnSanta Fe was operating in the Strait of Hormuz and we were running low on oil.  I was “thinking out loud” (one of our mechanisms) with the Engineer in the control room when a solution came from an unexpected place: the newest officer on board.  After listening to a discussion about our need for more oil, Ensign Aviles chimed in. He was manning the periscope and was looking at the contacts around us.  “Hey, that’s a fast-resupply ship. Why don’t we just ask them for some oil?”  I looked at the periscope display and, sure enough, the USS Rainier is transiting through the Strait of Hormuz several miles away.  The Rainier was a supply ship designed to support a carrier battle group.  She carried 2 million gallons of diesel fuel, 2 million gallons of jet fuel, and tons of ammunition and supplies.  All we needed was a few cans of oil. Surely Rainier would have that.

There was a problem.  All ship movements in the carrier battle group were pre-directed 36 hours in advance.  One just didn’t “call up” and get supplied.  But I was curious.  I waved the flashlight around.  “Go ahead, guys, see if you can set it up.”

“I intend to break radio silence to coordinate a resupply from Rainier,” said the Officer on Deck (OOD).

“Very well.”

USS RAINIER (AOE-7).jpgThe OOD called Rainier on the radio, identified who we were, and what we needed.  Sure enough, they would supply us!  Fortunately, Captain Kendall Card, commander of the Rainier, had reinforced with his crew that they were there to support the ships of the U.S. Navy, and that trumped bureaucracy.  I’d never heard of such a thing.  Not only that but the CO invited us to send over any crew members who needed medical or dental checkups beyond what Santa Fe’s Doc Hill could provide.

Rainier had a schedule to maintain; we couldn’t delay long.  If we didn’t get surfaced in a few minutes, it wouldn’t be able to stay around to help us.

The crew sprung to action, to which I gave my immediate assent.

From the Officer of the Deck: “Captain, I intend to prepare to surface.”

Very well.

From the Chief of the Boat (COB): “I intend to muster the small boat handling party in the crew’s mess.  I intend to open the forward escape trunk lower hatch.  COB is Chief in Charge.”

Very well.

From Doc Hill: “I intend to muster selected personnel for dental checkups in the crew’s mess, conducting watch reliefs as necessary.”

Very well.

From the admin officer, Petty Officer Scott Dillon: “Captain, I intend to canvass the crew for outgoing mail and transfer it to Rainier.”

Very well.

From the supply officer: “Captain, I intend to transfer the hydraulic oil from Rainier.”

Very well.

Myriad various activities happened quickly and in a synchronized manner.  Here’s where the training paid off.  There’s no way I would have been able to pull off a plan for conducting this kind of operation and direct it piece by piece.  You could call it speed of response, or reducing the sense-act delay inherent in organizations, or adaptability to change.  Whatever you call it, the crew’s performance allowed us to resupply at sea and continue being a submarine in defense of the country rather than limping into port for a fill up.

*Reprinted with permission from “Turn The Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, by L. David Marquet, 2012, Greenleaf Book Group Press, Austin, Texas. Copyright © 2012 by Louis David Marquet.


If you would like to order the book “Turn The Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, please visit:


Related Articles -

“I Intend To” – More Than a Recommendation (

How We Made Leader to Leader Work on Santa Fe – By David Adams (

Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment

Turn The Ship Around! A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level

Up Scope!

Teach Your People to “Think Out Loud” to Enable Them to Maintain Control

In Memory of Dr. Stephen R. Covey (1932 – 2012)

“I intend to . . .”


“I intend to . . .”

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Over the last few months, I have been writing posts featuring David Marquet and his new book, Turn The Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level.”  The reason for this is simple: I am fascinated with David and what he was able to accomplish as the Commanding Officer of the USS Santa Fe.  If you have not read the posts about David Marquet, I encourage you to read them first, before continuing to read this post, as it will provide you some background.  Then, come back to continue reading this post:

I was introduced to David in February of this year, through this blog and other social media, and I became acquainted with his leader-leader (leader to leader) philosophy.  He became a fan of my blog, and I became a fan of him and his blog.  David was gracious to share with his blog’s audience posts from this blog.  David even invited me to write a book review for his book reviews section of his blog, such as the post, “How Would the Marines Run Your Business.”  Over time, David and I have become allies and friends.

This blog, Command Performance Leadership, is about the synergies between military and corporate leadership, and there is no better example of those synergies than David and his leadership philosophy of empowerment and developing leaders at every level.  What he has accomplished throughout his career,  and since his retirement from the United States Navy, is the perfect story for this blog.  David’s message is one that absolutely deserves to be told.

Today, David’s book is officially released, and “Turn The Ship Around!” will be deployed for an important mission: to enlighten leaders, those who aspire to lead, and those formerly known as followers (the people who are leaders without a title).  The book discusses empowerment and how to create leaders at all levels.  I wanted to use this occasion to celebrate this book’s release, and to share a few of the ideas and mechanisms that come right out of the pages of David’s book.  Below, I have ripped a few those pages out of the book for you to read.  I hope that David’s message resonates with you, and that you can use a few of his ideas in your workplace to empower your people, and to create leaders, not followers.


Chapter 11

“I intend to . . .”

How proactive are senior managers and employees in your organization? Rewording our speech dramatically changed our level of proactivity.

21 January 1999, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (159 days to deployment)

“Conn, maneuvering, reactor scram!” The reactor had just shut down. The engineer inserted the shutdown deliberately, testing his department’s ability to find and repair a simulated fault.

The Officer of the Deck was my senior department head, Lieutenant Commander Bill Greene, and he was doing all the right things. We had shifted propulsion from the main engines to an auxiliary electric motor, the EPM, to turn the propeller. The EPM can only power the ship at low-speed and draws down the battery.

The ship was coming shallow in order to use its diesel engine to provide electrical power and keep the battery charged until the reactor was restarted. During the long troubleshooting period while the nuclear electronics technicians were isolating the fault, I started to get bored. I fiddled with my flashlight, turning it on and off. Things were going too smoothly. I couldn’t let the crew think their new captain was easy!

I nudged Bill and suggested we increase speed from “ahead 1/3” to “ahead 2/3” on the EPM to give the nuclear-trained enlisted men a sense of urgency. This would significantly increase the rate of battery discharge and put pressure on the trouble shooters to find and correct the fault quickly. At “ahead 2/3,” there is a near continuous click-click-click on the battery amp-hour meter. An audible reminder that time is running out, it’s physically unnerving!

“Ahead 2/3,” he ordered.

Nothing happened.

The helmsman should have reached over and rung up ahead 2/3. Instead, I could see him squirming in his chair. No one said anything and several awkward seconds passed. Astutely noting that the order hadn’t been carried out, I asked the helmsman what was going on. He was facing his panel but reported over his shoulder, “Captain, there is no ahead 2/3 on the EPM!”

I had made a mistake. I’d been shifted to command Santa Fe at the last-minute and unlike every other submarine I’d been on, there was only a 1/3 on the EPM.

I applauded the helmsman and grabbed Bill, the OOD. In the corner of the control room, I asked him if he knew there was no ahead 2/3 on the EPM.

“Yes, Captain, I did.”

“Well, why did you order it?” I asked, astounded.

“Because you told me to.”

He was being perfectly honest. By giving that order, I took the crew right back to the top-down command and control leadership model. That my most senior, experienced OOD would repeat it was a giant wake-up call about the perils of that model for something as complicated as a submarine. What happens when the leader is wrong in a top-down culture? Everyone goes over the cliff. I vowed henceforth never to give an order, any order. Instead, subordinates would say “I intend to….”

Mechanism: Use “I intend to . . .” to turn passive followers into active leaders

Although it may seem like a minor trick of language, we found “I intend to…” profoundly shifted ownership of the plan to the officers.

“I intend to . . .” didn’t take long to catch on. The officers and crew loved it.

A year later, I was standing on the bridge of the Santa Fe with Dr. Stephen Covey. He’d heard what we were doing and was interested in riding a submarine. By this point, the crew had fully embraced our initiatives for control, and “I intend to . . .” was prominently visible. Throughout the day the officers approached me with “I intend to.”

“Captain, I intend to submerge the ship. We are in water we own, water depth has been checked and is 400 feet, all men are below, the ship is rigged for dive, and I’ve certified my watch team.”

I’d reply “Very well” and off we’d go.

Dr. Covey was keenly interested and incorporated this concept into his subsequent book, The 8th Habit.

The Power of Words

The key to your team becoming more proactive rests in the language subordinates and superiors use.

Here is a short list of “disempowered phrases” that passive followers use:

Request permission to . . .

I would like to . . .

What should I do about . . .

Do you think we should . . .

Could we . . .

Here is a short list of “empowered phrases” that active doers use:

I intend to . . .

I plan on . . .

I will . . .

We will . . .

Later, I heard from a friend of mine who had taught future submarine commanders how frustrated he was by the inability of too many officers to make decisions at the command level. He said that these officers “came from good ships” but would become paralyzed when it came to tough decision-making. I took issue with his categorizing them as “good ships.” By using that term, he meant ships that didn’t have problems—at least that we knew about. But this had obviously been accomplished using a top-down, leader-follower structure where the captain made the decisions. Had those officers practiced “I intend to…” when they were second-in-command, they would have been practiced in decision-making.

This shows the degree to which we reward personality-centered leadership structures and accept the limitations. These may have been good ships, in that they avoided problems, but it certainly was not good leadership.

Questions to Consider

What causes us to take control when we should be giving control?

Can you recall a recent incident where your subordinate followed your order because he or she thought you had learned secret information “for executives only”?

What would be the most challenging obstacle to implementing “I intend to . . .” in your place of business?

*Reprinted with permission from “Turn The Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, by L. David Marquet, 2012, Greenleaf Book Group Press, Austin, Texas. Copyright © 2012 by Louis David Marquet.

Another source for this excerpt can be found HERE

- If you enjoyed this excerpt, you can read another one.  I posted “A New Method of Resupplying ~ Putting “I intend to…” Into Action” today.


If you would like to order the book “Turn The Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, please visit:


Related Articles -

“I Intend To” – More Than a Recommendation (

How We Made Leader to Leader Work on Santa Fe – By David Adams (


Teach Your People to “Think Out Loud” to Enable Them to Maintain Control

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Here is yet another sneak peak inside the book, “Turn The Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, By L. David Marquet, Captain, U.S. Navy (retired), to be published by Greenleaf Book Group LLC on August 1, 2012:

USS Santa Fe riding on the surface

I was standing on top of the bridge in a harness. The tactical inspection was essentially over and we were returning to port. Lieutenant Dave Adams was [Officer of the Deck] OOD, driving Santa Fe up the channel into Pearl Harbor. He chatted with the bridge phone talker and lookouts. Everyone, it seemed, was in a buoyant mood except me. We had followed the attack on the submarine with a successful attack on an enemy surface ship. We sunk two “enemy” vessels, shooting two for two, and hadn’t been counter-detected. We had operated Santa Fe safely and effectively. We’d done well.

Still, I was thinking about how the inspection had gone in more critical terms and how much I’d had to drive solutions to problems.

“Bridge, navigator. Mark the turn.” I overheard Lieutenant Commander Bill Greene’s voice on the bridge loudspeaker. The navigation team in the control room was using bearings from the periscope and GPS to determine whereSanta Fe was in the channel and when we needed to turn.

“Nav, bridge, aye,” Dave acknowledged, holding the microphone to his mouth, but he didn’t order the turn. I waited a second.

“Weps, are you going to turn?” I asked directly. In the narrow channel, every second counted. I glanced sideways at the familiar day markers and palm trees and knew we were at the point where we needed to turn.

“Yes, 3 seconds. I thought they were early.” He seemed miffed I had prodded him.

“Helm, right 15 degrees rudder.” Santa Fe started a slow turn to the right, lining up with the next leg of the channel. It worked out just fine.

But I could see Dave had lost initiative, lost confidence, and lost control. He was no longer driving the submarine, I was. His job satisfaction just took a big hit.

Mechanism: Thinking Out Loud

As naval officers, we stress formal communications and even have a book, the Interior Communications Manual, that specifies exactly how equipment, watch stations, and evolutions are spoken, written, and abbreviated. By consistently using these terms, we avoid confusion. For example, we shut valves, we don’t close them, because close could be confused with blow. We prepare to snorkel, but then we report being ready—not prepared—to snorkel,

This adherence to formal communications unfortunately crowds out the less formal but highly important contextual information needed for peak team performance. Words like “I think . . .” or “I am assuming . . .” or “It is likely . . .” that are not specific and concise orders get written up by inspection teams as examples of informal communications, a big no-no. But that is just the communication we need to make leader-leader work.

We also discussed what had happened on the bridge as we approached Pearl Harbor. Here’s what I wish Dave had been saying: “Captain, the navigator has been marking the turns early. I am planning on waiting 5 seconds then ordering the turn.” or “I’m seeing the current running past this buoy pretty strongly and I’m going to turn early because of it.” Now the captain can let the scene play out. The OOD retains control of his job, his initiative; he learns more and becomes a more effective officer. He’s driving the submarine! He loves his job and stays in the navy.

We called this “thinking out loud.”

*Reprinted with permission from “Turn The Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, by L. David Marquet, 2012, Greenleaf Book Group Press, Austin, Texas. Copyright © 2012 by Louis David Marquet.


  • What do you think of the newest sneak peak of “Turn the Ship Around!”?
  • Have any examples of where “thinking out loud” has or could have helped maintain control and drive empowered decision-making in your organization?


If you would like to order the book “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level”, please visit THIS link at Barnes & Noble (


Related Articles -

How We Made Leader to Leader Work on Santa Fe – By David Adams (

Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level (

Up Scope! (

Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment) (

Up Scope!

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Here’s a sneak peak inside the book, “Turn The Ship Around!”, taking you inside the real-time leadership decisions made during a submarine war game in the waters around Hawaii:

Does your senior management team wait for your orders before they act, or have they learned to think for themselves?

27 January 1999—Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; 153 days to deployment

The chart table on a submarine gets to be a crowded spot. Dave Adams, Bill Greene, and the XO were crowded around the chart table with me.

Where was the enemy going? I scanned the chart and it came to me. I saw that they were likely heading for some congested waters near Maui.

“Here, we need to be here at 0600.” I tapped the chart with the butt end of the flashlight at a spot in the Maui basin. If the enemy were indeed heading toward those congested waters, this location, upslope from them, looking into the deeper, quieter water, would be the spot from which we would launch our attack.

It was midnight. I was exhausted and needed a couple hours of sleep. We’d gone into Pearl Harbor and picked up Commodore Kenny and his inspection team. The ship was doing well, but I felt I needed to be too many places at once. For this, the overnight supervisors would have to drive Santa Fe into position: accounting for the movements of the enemy, the interfering maritime traffic, the wind and sea conditions, and a number of other factors.

I looked around. Heads nodded. Any questions? There were none. “Okay, call me if anything comes up that interferes with this plan or may make us want to reconsider it.”

A more enlightened approach would have been to engage in a discussion about why I came up with the position and what assumptions were key to making that position work. That’s what I wanted to do, but I just didn’t have the energy anymore. All day, every day, it seemed like that’s all I did. It was tiresome. I tried to stay as quiet as possible and let the officers run things with “I intend to . . .” but top-down was ingrained in how we operated.

28 January 1999—On board Santa Fe (152 days to deployment)

USS Santa Fe Sailors Pilot Submarine While Transiting Pacific OceanWhen I got up at 0500, I was dismayed to find out that we were several miles out of position. Not only that, we were headed in the wrong direction, away from the enemy! Now the enemy was likely to be upslope of us! It would take several hours to reverse the situation, which was a tactical blunder that would result in a down check during an inspection but could spell death during combat. The watch team had allowed a series of short-term contacts and navigational issues to drive them rather than driving the ship to an optimal tactical position. We were still letting things happen to us rather than proactively making things happen.

Commodore Kenny was in the control room, observing our team’s interactions. I was exasperated but kept my cool. I realized the failure was mine. We weren’t going to be able to go from top-down management to bottom-up leadership overnight.

My immediate reaction was to think that I needed to manage everything more carefully—“I should have checked at 0300”—but this would have put me back into the exact same situation I was in on board the Will Rogers. There needed to be a way out of this. Upon reflection, I decided that giving specific direction, as in my statement “We need to be here at 0600,” without the underlying thought processes just didn’t work in the complex and unpredictable world we were in. There were no shortcuts. As the level of control is divested, it becomes more and more important that the team be aligned with the goal of the organization. At this point, although I’d talked about accomplishing our mission (a positive goal), the team was still in the old mind-set of avoiding problems (in this case, avoiding contacts to ensure counter-detection and minimize risk of collision). When it came to prosecuting the enemy, a correct assessment of risk versus gain would have been more focused on driving the submarine to an optimal tactical position rather than avoiding contacts.

For the next several hours, we worked our way toward a better tactical position. We’d be making good progress, then have to turn back to avoid a fishing boat and lose ground. Santa Fe was operating at periscope depth in shallow water, so each turn took several minutes. It was slow going.

“Up scope.” The OOD rolled the ring, and the hydraulics began lifting the periscope the 18 feet to its fully raised position.

Santa Fe was just beneath the surface of the water. Even with the scope raised, a short pole of only about 2 feet would be visible above the surface. Still, the surface was quite smooth today and even at our slow speed our periscope could be visible. We’d raise the periscope for just a few seconds, rapidly look around, and lower it again.

We were in the final stages of a cat-and-mouse game with the enemy diesel submarine. The simulated war had escalated to the point where Santa Fe was authorized to sink it.

The enemy had picked this area deliberately. The shallow uneven bottom reduced the effectiveness of the torpedo, and to ensure a hit we would need a precise idea of the enemy’s location. The best way to do this would be to actually see it, which is why we were at periscope depth, looking for the enemy sub visually. To accomplish this, we had packed more than twenty men into the control room, a space roughly half the area of a typical Starbucks.

We carried the Mk 48 ADCAP (for advanced capability) torpedo. It is a devastating weapon against both surface ships and submarines. We launch the torpedo to intercept the target like a hunter leads a duck. In addition, the torpedo has its own sonar system, looking for the target for a precise intercept. Not only that, but the torpedo streams a wire behind it that stays connected to the submarine. This way we could see what the torpedo was seeing and redirect the torpedo, sending steering orders down the wire, if necessary.

“Target!” Amid the buoys and haze, and against the Hawaiian Islands as a backdrop, the OOD saw the enemy’s periscope and immediately lowered ours. If we could see him, he could see us.

“Captain, recommend firing point procedures!” Dave Adams was pushing me to order the attack and I liked that. As weapons officer, he knew we had all the pieces together for a successful shot: weapons loaded and ready in the tubes, an accurate bead on the target, and authorization to engage. Waiting for more precise information would only give the enemy more time to detect us.

“Very well, weps.” I wanted to acknowledge his initiative.

I ordered the attack. “Firing point procedures, submarine. Tube 1 primary, tube 2 backup.”

I wiped the sweat off my brow.

The standard litany followed that order, as principal assistants reported readiness to launch. The next words I heard, however, were not part of that litany.

“Request to raise the BRA-34 to copy the broadcast.”

What? Raise the radio antenna?

We were at the end of our 12-hour broadcast cycle. It was time to get our messages. We’d avoided raising this antenna because it sticks out of the water higher than the periscope and would need to remain up for several minutes, making detection of Santa Fe likely.

I resisted the urge to throw a fit. I glanced at Commodore Kenny, who was standing to the side of the control room. He was trying hard not to grin. Clearly, his radio inspector had been keeping him informed that we were approaching 12 hours on the broadcast and that the deadline to copy our message traffic would likely come right at the worst time.

Tempted as I was to bark orders at this moment, I looked at my shoes instead. “We’re not going to do that,” I muttered. “We have to find another solution.” Even if we lost the opportunity to attack right then, I needed to get everyone on board thinking….

*Reprinted with permission from “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level”, by L. David Marquet, 2012, Greenleaf Book Group Press, Austin, Texas. Copyright © 2012 by Louis David Marquet.


In August, Greenleaf Book Group LLC will publish “Turn The Ship Around!”

If you would like to order the book “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level”, please visit THIS link at Barnes & Noble (


Related Articles -

Mechanism: Resist the urge to provide solutions ( [This is the mechanism associated with the story Up Scope!]

Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level (

Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment) (

Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain's Guide to Creating Leadership at Every LevelA few months ago, I introduced you to David Marquet, in a post entitled “Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment)” (if you haven’t read that post, I highly recommend that you do).  David is now the author of the forthcoming book, “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every level, which is being released on August 1, 2012, and is presently in its pre-release promotion.  I have been in regular contact with David, in lieu of the book’s publication.  I have asked David to provide an excerpt to be shared with the audience of this blog.  David has graciously accepted my invitation, and today I am starting a series of posts featuring David, his philosophies on empowerment and his new book.  Today’s post features details about David and the book.  Forthcoming posts will feature excerpts from the book.

About David Marquet -

A proven practitioner and innovative thinker, David graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981, and led a distinguished 28 year career in the United States Navy’s Submarine Force, serving on submarines in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  He commanded the nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763), stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and completely turned around the boat.  Under David’s leadership, the crew went from being “worst to first.”  The USS Santa Fe earned numerous awards, such as the Arleigh Burke Award for being the most improved ship in the Pacific, as well as the Battle “E” award for most combat effective ship in Submarine Squadron Seven, and for retention excellence.  David’s bold and highly effective leadership techniques emphasize process over personality and empowerment over ego.  Noted author Dr. Stephen Covey rode USS Santa Fe and discusses one of Captain Marquet’s leadership practices in his book, The 8th Habit.[i] [ii]  David’s message inspires the empowerment of engaged people and leadership at all levels.  He encourages leaders to release energy, intellect, and passion in everyone around them; to develop leaders not followers.

David is also the founder and President of the consulting firm Practicum, Inc., and creator of the blog Leader – Leader (Leader to Leader).


Overview of the Book “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level” -

Written by the commander of a nuclear submarine. When he assumed command of the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763), a nuclear submarine plagued by poor morale and even poorer performance, the author accepted the greatest management challenge of his career. Adapting business leadership techniques for the close confines of the huge underwater craft, Marquet dared to break the U.S. Navy’s traditional leader-follower model and instead created his own leader-leader model among the crew. Readers share the commander’s insights and risks as he revolutionizes standard operating procedures by allowing his subordinates to assume responsibility for everything from clerical tasks to crucial war-gaming decisions.

Practical steps to astounding results. The exceptional naval officer explains how to adapt the leader-leader model for any organization, including specific mechanisms such as these:

•    Use guiding principles to enhance clarity
•    Repeat the message continuously and consistently
•    Eliminate top-down monitoring systems
•    Begin with the end in mind

True stories from the high-tech military.
In the tradition of Tom Clancy, the author takes the reader on board a nuclear submarine for a detailed look at the latest in arms and warfare technology. Readers ride along with the sub commander on crucial practice runs, nerve-racking inspection tours, and simulated encounters with the enemy. From navigation to rocket launching, Marquet reveals what it is really like to operate one of the most sophisticated machines in the American naval arsenal and the personnel obstacles he overcame to make his fast attack Los Angeles-class sub one of the best in the U.S. Navy.[iii]


If you would like to order the book “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level”, please visit THIS link at Barnes & Noble (


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Excerpts of “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level” -

Up Scope! (


Recommended Reading -

Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment) (


[i] – The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association – West 2009 – Documents: David Marquet – Accessed 24 April 2012 –

[ii]Practicum Inc. – About Us” – Accessed 24 April 2012 – Practicum, Inc. –

[iii] “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level” – Accessed 24 April 2012 – Barnes & Noble ( –

Senator John McCain’s Speech at the Naval Academy (The Forrestal Lecture Series)

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership with tags , , , , , , , on April 9, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Thanks to an update in my inbox from Jacqui Murray’s blog USNA or Bust linked to her! page, I was alerted to a speech by Senator John McCain at the Naval Academy as part of the Forrestal Lecture Series on March 28, 2012.

In his speech, Sen. McCain discussed the differences between leadership and management. He believes the nation is producing too many managers and not enough leaders – citing the increased number of MBA graduates as proof of this trend. Being a manager is easy, as the manager must merely maintain the status quo. Leaders must motivate and inspire subordinates to reach new limits.[i]  McCain said, “Today, we hear a lot about ‘management,’ and not nearly enough about leadership.  That worries me.  One thing of which I am certain – there is a great difference between managers and leaders. Competent managers are useful in any endeavor.  But they are plentiful. Our nation graduates over 150,000 MBAs every year. But leaders … true leaders … are rare.”[ii]

Lamenting the military’s one strike policy on mistakes, Sen. McCain noted that most great U.S. Navy leaders would not have made it out of the lower ranks had they served in today’s armed forces. This intolerance towards failure of any kind has caused our military to become more risk averse than ever before.[i-a]  “Halsey, Nimitz, and Spruance were leaders…If any one of them had opted for caution rather than courage when their moment of testing came, we would have lost the Battle of Midway,” McCain said.[ii-a]

The speech discusses the quality of leadership in the military and how officers in the armed services are affected by the conduct of American foreign policy in how they do their job.  McCain speaks to the importance to develop leaders, as he provides a historical perspective of leadership in the Naval and Marine Corps services during World War II.  Rather than provide you excerpts of the speech in this post, and risk taking statements out of proper context, I am providing the entire text of the speech here.  Although I am eager to highlight the important parts of this speech for you, I encourage you to find the true value of this speech for yourself.  It truly is a great read.

You can also see the video of the speech HERE, via the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation.


Thank you. It’s always a pleasure to return to Annapolis, or, as some of my classmates often refer to the Naval Academy during my years as a midshipman, the scene of the crime.

John McCain at the U.S. Naval Academy, mid-1950s

I’ve had the privilege of delivering the Forrestal Lecture before, and I’m well aware of the many distinguished speakers who have shared that privilege with me. I’m humbled to be in their company, but I can claim a distinction I doubt any of them possess. I’m pretty sure I’m the only speaker who graduated from the Academy fifth from the bottom of my class. And I’m positive I’m the only one who would admit it.

However, I’m not going to regale you with stories about how I managed that dubious accomplishment. They are hardly an example I would recommend to you. And I only recall them because I like to remind myself from time to time I wasn’t always as old as I am now or as concerned about my public reputation.

Instead, out of respect for you and this distinguished forum, I thought I would talk about something more relevant to you; something I began to learn here, even if I didn’t realize it at the time, and which I came to appreciate more as a navy officer and public officeholder – leadership.

I want to discuss first the quality of leadership in our military, and then in the conduct of American foreign policy. The latter is not the responsibility of officers in the armed services, but it is certainly affected by how well you do your job. 

I can trace my family’s military history to the American Revolution, when an ancestor served on General Washington’s staff.  McCain’s have served in every war in our nation’s history, most of them in the army until my grandfather had the good sense to break with family tradition and seek an appointment to Annapolis.

In 1936, the oldest aviator in the United States Navy received his wings at Pensacola Naval Air Station.  He was a fifty-two-year-old Navy captain, who had received his commission thirty years earlier.  He wasn’t a very good flyer then; nor would he ever be.  He was reported to have cracked up five planes during his flight training, and a subordinate once remarked that ‘the base prayed for his safe return every time he flew.’

McCain’s grandfather "Slew" (left) and father "Jack" on board a U.S. Navy ship in Tokyo Bay, c. September 2, 1945

But for the remainder of his Navy career and his life, naval aviation was my grandfather’s greatest passion, and his contributions to its emergence as an essential, and, at times, decisive element of American military power was his greatest accomplishment.

My father wanted to fly, too, but he was rejected and became a submariner, and eventually Commander-in-Chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific. Two of my sons earned their wings at Pensacola: my oldest son, Doug, in 1985, and my son, Jack, earlier this year. My youngest son, Jimmy, enlisted in the Marine Corps out of high school, and served in Iraq.

So, when I speak about leadership in our armed forces, I’m more than a little familiar with the subject. I was raised in the Navy. I’ve been around military officers all my life. For most of half a century, the Navy was the only world I really knew. I’ve been privileged to witness examples of courageous, inspiring leadership in the most difficult of circumstances. I know what it is and I know what it isn’t.

One of the benefits of living as long as I have, is that you get to see a lot of history in the making. And if you are paying attention, you can learn the lessons of what we did right, and what we did wrong. Both should be carefully studied.

In a little over two months, we’ll commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, when barely six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, we faced an enemy supremely confident in their ability – not just to defeat, but to annihilate – the battered remnants of Halsey’s Pacific Fleet.  We were overwhelmingly outnumbered and outgunned.  The Japanese brought 8 carriers, we had barely three; they had 11 battleships, we had none.  And the Japanese had the best fighter aircraft in the Pacific – the Mitsubishi Zero – that easily dominated the slower, less agile TBDs, SBDs, F4Fs, and Marine F2As.

Making matters worse, our forces were plagued by faulty equipment. The Mk 13 torpedo was notoriously unreliable. In fact, not a single torpedo dropped at Midway by Torpedo 3, Torpedo 6 or Torpedo 8 even detonated. And the new electrical arming system on the SBD’s had the annoying habit of randomly releasing the bomb when the Master Arm switch was selected. 

But in the end, the battle turned not on numbers or equipment – but rather on the actions – and the leadership – of some truly extraordinary men. What they did at Midway has become the stuff of legend.

Men like LCDR John Waldron, skipper of Torpedo 8, who led his 15 TBD Devastators against one of the enemy carriers at wave-top height and barely 100 knots, while trying to fend off the far more capable – and deadlier – Zeros.  With no fighter cover of his own, Waldron’s fate was sealed.  His last transmission to his squadron-mates was simple: ‘We will go in. We won’t turn back. We will attack. Good luck.’

And men like Marine Major ‘Joe’ Henderson, who led his mixed squadron of F4Fs and F2As against the carrier Hiryu.  Struck by anti-aircraft fire, his aircraft in flames, Henderson pressed the attack – on what would be his last flight.

And LCDR Wade McClusky, who, despite being dangerously low on fuel, kept searching for the Japanese carriers until he found them, and whose extraordinary leadership – according to Admiral Nimitz – ‘decided the fate of our carrier task force and our forces at Midway.’The Battle of Midway was won not by superior equipment, and certainly not because we outnumbered the Japanese. We won because of the stout hearts and uncommon leadership that for one hundred years has been the hallmark of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. 

My grandfather commanded a carrier task force in the Pacific during WWII. He made it a point to talk with pilots after they returned from a strike, asking them, ‘Do you think we’re doing the right thing?’ He knew that if you ever stopped learning from your men, then you stopped leading.

Today, we hear a lot about ‘management,’ and not nearly enough about leadership.  That worries me.  One thing of which I am certain – there is a great difference between managers and leaders. Competent managers are useful in any endeavor.  But they are plentiful. Our nation graduates over 150,000 MBAs every year. But leaders … true leaders … are rare. And they are a far more important asset than managers.

  • Leaders inspire people; managers, well, they ‘manage’ people and assets.
  • Leaders think about protecting and promoting their people.
  • Leaders take charge and accept responsibility; managers often turn to a higher authority for fear of making a wrong decision. 
  • Leaders take risks when necessary; managers are taught to avoid risks whenever possible.

Halsey, Nimitz, and Spruance were leaders. Henderson, McClusky, and Waldron were leaders. If any one of them had opted for caution rather than courage when their moment of testing came, we would have lost the Battle of Midway.

In recent years, I worry we’ve allowed ourselves to concentrate too much on producing competent managers rather than the next generation of leaders. I worry we’ve focused so much on strategy and tactics that we spend too little time developing the leadership skills of those who really decide the outcome of battles.

My father used to say that technical experts are a ‘dime a dozen.’ You can always find a man who can tell you how many foot-pounds of force are in a piston, or what the aerodynamic effects on a plane will be at a certain airspeed and altitude. But, he said, ‘The business of leadership is another matter entirely. It’s one of the most difficult subjects there is – to inspire in people subordinate to you, the desire to do a better job.’ That is where leadership trumps management – in the art of inspiring others to perform far beyond their self-imposed limits.

Few managers, however competent, will ever inspire people to endure the hardships and make the sacrifices that are the price we pay for the privilege of defending our great nation. 

Please don’t mistake me. Our armed services will need competent managers and a lot of technical expertise as we face the challenges to our security in this rapidly changing world. And I know quite a few inspiring leaders who serve in uniform today. I just want to encourage the understanding that our armed services are first and foremost in the business of leadership. 

I encourage everyone who will have the privilege to defend our country and its interests in the 21st Century to study the example of our military leaders in the last century. Study their lives and their leadership styles, and strive to be like them. Learn to inspire the men and women who will serve under you. Encourage them, give them meaningful responsibility, allow them room to grow, to make mistakes and to learn from them. Be slow to judge, and remember that many of our most revered leaders would never have survived in a ‘one strike’ or ‘zero defect’ environment. Not only our nation, but the world has a lot a riding on your judgment and leadership.

These are fascinating times we live in, as the United States confronts challenges very different from the challenges of the last century. My generation served America’s interests in the Cold War, a dangerous but comparatively stable time when the world was divided between East and West, and few doubted the necessity and ability of American leadership. Today, the world order isn’t bipolar, nor, thankfully, is it maintained by the threat of mutually assured destruction. But it is more complicated, and changes rapidly thanks to the revolutionary technological advances that will define the age. It sometimes seems like there really isn’t any ‘order’ to the world’s affairs.

But there is. And, contrary to assertions that American power and influence is declining irreversibly, it is an order shaped by American values, interests and leadership, and we will continue to lead it as long as we have the will to do so.

For all the challenges we face, for all the changes occurring in the world, I am convinced that America still has the greatest capacity to lead the world; that most of the world wants us to lead; and that it is necessary, for our future and the future of humanity, that we lead.  

Globalization, the spectacular economic growth of China and India, Brazil and others, China’s growing political and military assertiveness, competition for energy resources, the financial crisis of 2008, and the deep recession and weak recovery that followed, our mounting national debt, two long and difficult wars, are often cited among other reasons as contributing factors in America’s diminished capacity for world leadership.

But for all our problems, we still stand the best chance of not just surviving global changes but using them to advance our progress and strengthen our position in the world. The rise of new economic powers – China, India, Brazil and others – doesn’t have to come at the cost of our opportunities and influence in the world.

We are still the most innovative country in the world, and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Future technological advances will affect our fortunes and the world’s as profoundly as did the revolution in communications technology, most of which was invented here.

Our economy is still the largest in the world. And, as Robert Kagan has pointed out, even if in twenty years or so the China has a larger economy than ours, our relative economic strength will still be greater because our per capita GDP will be higher. No other market is freer than ours. Our standard of living is still the highest. Our universities are still considered the world’s finest. The changes that have enabled countries to generate greater economic growth today than in the United States are changes that have mostly embraced American economic values. And the biggest political changes occurring in the world today are consistent with American political values.

Name another economic philosophy that is as widely adopted as free market capitalism. Name another political philosophy that is gaining as many adherents in the nations of the world as Western liberalism. You can’t. Communism, fascism, socialism, all the ‘isms’ that have seriously challenged the ideals of free peoples and free markets have come and mostly gone. And when has the rising prosperity of other nations ever presented more of a disadvantage than an opportunity for us?

Our military power, despite the burden of two long wars, and the constraints our budget deficits and national debt impose, remains vastly superior to the militaries of all other nations. To quote Robert Kagan again, the U.S. ‘is far and away the most powerful nation the world has ever known, and there has been no decline in America’s relative military capacity – at least not yet.’ We spend less on defense spending as a percentage of GDP than we did in the 1950s and 1980s, but we still have the most advanced, experienced, and capable military in the world. 

We obviously have a greater capacity to influence the international system than any other country. But does the world still want us to lead? Yes, yes, yes.

I travel a lot at the expense of the American taxpayer, and everywhere I go, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, I hear again and again, from government, military and business leaders, and from ordinary people, struggling to gain the freedoms and opportunities that Americans believe are their birthright, that American leadership is indispensible to their interests and to the stability and prosperity of the world. I’ve never heard anyone welcome the idea that China or any other power should replace America’s influence in the world.

I’ve spoken with many people risking their lives to bring an end to autocracy and institute government by the consent of the governed in the various movements that comprise the Arab Spring. Their message is always the same. Yes, we want America’s help, but not just when it’s safe, but when we need it most, as the old regimes fight desperately to hang on to power. They want to know that we act not only in our self-interest, but in solidarity with the cause of human freedom wherever it is threatened. That’s why I am so concerned that the U.S. is failing to exercise leadership in Syria.

Clearly, our interests and values would be significantly advanced should the Syrian people bring an end to the Assad regime. Should the regime fall, it would be a body blow to the regional influence of our most dangerous adversary in the Middle East, Iran. Assad’s Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Middle East, and provides vital support to Hezbollah and Hamas. It’s murdering its citizens by the thousands. We must act urgently to support Syrian opposition with deeds and well as words to counter the support Assad receives from Iran and Russia. Soon, it might be too late to help.

It is by no means a given that the success of the Arab Spring will result over time in stable democracies governed by the rule of law that protects fundamental human rights for all, and a more stable, less violent Middle East. Islamic extremists might hijack revolutions that were fought to achieve basic human rights and political self-determination. The U.S. can influence their direction, but our influence will be directly related to the extent of our support for opposition movements in their hour of need and not just in the wake of their success.

That brings us to my third and final point: the necessity of American leadership. 

This world poses many challenges, but if offers even more opportunities. We can thrive in a global economic order of rapidly emerging and competing economic powers, as long as we exercise the leadership to establish its rules, and change our own practices that undermine the productivity and competitiveness of our economy. We can enhance our own security and increase our influence by maintaining our military superiority and by supporting the aspirations to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of oppressed people in whatever region of the world they happen to live.

The rumors of our decline can be proven premature, if we have the will, the fortitude and confidence to do in this century, what we did in the last: help make this world another, better place than we found it. We will only fail if we give up, and become the first American generation to accept our destiny rather than make it. That would be a tragic fate not only for us, but for the progress of the human race.

These are your challenges and opportunities more than they are mine. I am nearing the end of a long career in our country’s service. You will soon begin yours. I envy you, and trust you will make the most of your opportunity. You better. The whole world is counting on you.

Thank you.[ii-b]

[i-a] “Senator John McCain Speaks at Naval Academy | USNI Blog.” USNI Blog. Accessed 9 April 2012.

[ii-a,b] “Remarks by Senator John McCain at the Naval Academy as Part of the Forrestal Lecture Series – March 28, 2012″ – U.S. Senator John McCain – Arizona – – Accessed 9 April 2012.  Accessed via John McCain’s Facebook page at on the post link

Quote of the Day by Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership, Quote of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance


William F. Halsey Jr, PHOTOThere are no great men. Just great challenges which ordinary men, out of necessity, are forced by circumstances to meet.”*

William F. Halsey, Jr. (1882-1959) – Fleet Admiral



* Also quoted as, “There are no extraordinary men… just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.”

Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment)

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

David Marquet is the founder and President of the consulting firm Practicum, Inc., and creator of the blog Leader – Leader (Leader to Leader).  For those of us who are acquainted with David on social media, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, he often posts words of inspiration and motivation that are sometimes offered as points to ponder; things to make you stop and think.  David’s messages inspire the empowerment of engaged people and leadership at all levels.  He encourages leaders to release energy, intellect, and passion in everyone around them; to develop leaders not followers.  This obviously comes natural for David, as he has been an inspirational leader, taking people and organizations from good to great, since his days in the Navy.

A proven practitioner and innovative thinker, David graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981, and led a distinguished 28 year career in the United States Navy’s Submarine Force, serving on submarines in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  He commanded the nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763), stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and completely turned around the boat.  Under David’s leadership, the crew went from being “worst to first.”  The USS Santa Fe earned numerous awards, such as the Arleigh Burke Award for being the most improved ship in the Pacific, as well as the Battle “E” award for most combat effective ship in Submarine Squadron Seven, and for retention excellence.  David’s bold and highly effective leadership techniques emphasize process over personality and empowerment over ego.  Noted author Dr. Stephen Covey rode USS Santa Fe and discusses one of Captain Marquet’s leadership practices in his book, The 8th Habit.[i-a] [ii-a]________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Command of the USS Santa Fe –

In early Jan. 1999, the USS Santa Fe experienced a change in leadership that would alter the way many on the crew would exercise leadership.[iii-a]  The crew Marquet inherited was the lowest performing crew in the US submarine fleet.  But it didn’t stay that way.  What Marquet did was change the culture aboard his boat from one of permission to one of intent.  Aboard his boat, his sailors didn’t ask permission, they announced their intentions.  The captain was still in charge and could still affirm or deny the intention, but every action was owned by the person performing the action.  He built in accountability.  The crew aboard the Santa Fe wasn’t just accountable for the results; they were accountable for their actions.  They were not just accountable to some arbitrary metric, they became accountable to themselves.[iv]

Through the process of running the day-to-day functions of the submarine and being trusted to do so, the crew came to understand that principles, not personality, ensured success. When they were trusted to make personnel decisions, relied upon with confidence for information and resources to get the job done, and invited to assertively exercise their individual strengths, they changed the way sailors viewed their jobs. Principles became their guides. Officers no longer waited for the captain to give direction. Instead, they began informing the captain of their intentions.[iii-b]

USS Santa Fe returns from deployment

The crew was united and empowered, and the sailors began to take ownership of the submarine to a degree.  They always held the key to empowerment within themselves. What they did was change their thinking from being followers to being leaders. Their guiding principle of empowerment read, “We encourage those below us to take action and support them if they make mistakes. We employ stewardship delegation, explaining what we want accomplished and allow flexibility in how it is accomplished.” Explaining what was wanted and allowing the chiefs the flexibility to determine how best to accomplish it had a drastic effect on the efficiency of the crew.[iii-c]

The key to empowering people is to not make them followers in the first place. This allows the managers (the chief petty officers) to be decision makers. They are the critical component to the completion of tasks that need to be completed. The sailors on Santa Fe are trained and educated to perform their particular skill sets to an advanced level. Trusting them to be decision makers, giving them access to vital information and supporting them when they make mistakes results in principle-based leaders that continue to grow.[iii-d]


Capt. L. David Marquet is piped ashore after being relieved by Capt. Joseph Tofalo as Commander, Submarine Squadron Three.

Capt. David Marquet is piped ashore

Captain Marquet went on to command Submarine Squadron Three, a front-line submarine squadron in Pearl Harbor.[ii-b]  Although that tour’s duration was only 13 months, David’s leadership again produced results.  Marquet relinquished command with three of his squadron’s six fast-attack submarines deployed to the Western Pacific, a fact that Pacific Submarine Force commander Rear Adm. Jeffrey Cassias hailed as a huge accomplishment.[v-a]

“That Commodore Marquet is changing command with half of his squadron deployed is just the way he would’ve wanted it,” said Cassias. “It speaks volumes about the great challenges he has tackled during his command of Submarine Squadron 3.”[v-b]

At the time of David’s change of command ceremony Sept. 23, 2005, aboard USS Olympia (SSN 717) at the Pearl Harbor Naval Station, the USS Key West (SSN 722), USS Louisville (SSN 724) and USS Columbia (SSN 771) were deployed, having completed their deployment preparations under Marquet’s command.  Additionally, Olympia completed a deployment in the Western Pacific, while USS Chicago (SSN 721) was nearing completion of its deployment preparations.  The squadron’s sixth submarine, USS Honolulu (SSN 718), was nearing completion of maintenance availability in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.[v-c]

“Getting a submarine ready to deploy is not easy,” said Cassias. “It requires significant time training and certifying the crew, putting them through an intensive series of drills and inspections, and ensuring the ship is in peak material readiness, as well.”[v-d]

“Deploying four – almost five – of six submarines in a squadron is a great accomplishment for such a short tour,” said Cassias. “It’s something that wouldn’t have happened without a visionary leader at the helm.”[v-e]

Marquet, who was awarded the Legion of Merit by Cassias, credited his commanding officers and squadron staff for his success in preparing submarines to deploy.[v-f]

“It was a little over a year ago that I joined a happy few band of brothers here at Squadron 3, and we had a mission,” said Marquet. “The mission was very simple – the mission was to improve the combat effectiveness of our submarines.”[v-g]

Captain Marquet completed his Navy career running the Navy’s internal think tank, Deep Blue,* where his insightful and provocative analysis is being used to transform the Navy.[ii-c]

With his “Turn this Ship Around!” leadership program, Captain Marquet focuses on the people side of today’s highly technological and complex organizations – providing mechanisms and practices that foster empowerment and initiative; minimize errors and rework; develop leaders at all levels; and embed continuous learning and improvement in the work environment. The result is dramatically improved and enduring operational excellence.[i-b]


David Marquet Develops Leaders -

Modern business requires moving beyond hierarchical leader-follower structures. The fastest and most effective way to accomplish this is by getting everyone in the organization to think like leaders. Practicum’s leadership development programs and leadership consulting stress empowerment over ego and process over personality. By learning to implement these ideas you will develop leaders throughout your organization and take the first step towards long-term organizational success.

The goal of leadership should be more than organizational effectiveness. Great leadership should:

  • Achieve organizational excellence along with superior morale
  • Embed mechanisms of excellence into the fabric of the organization, thereby creating enduring excellence independent of the leader’s tenure
  • Spawn multiple additional leaders throughout the organization capable of further developing highly successful organizations.[vi]


David Marquet Delivers the Powerful Message that Anyone Can Be a Great Leader -

Great Leadership requires accomplishing three things. First, it must create a highly effective organization with superior morale. Second, leadership practices must be embedded into the fabric of the organization, beyond the current leader, to create an enduring leadership mentality. Finally, Great Leadership creates an organizational culture that spawns generations of additional leaders throughout the organization.

Accomplishing all three pieces of Great Leadership requires rejecting the traditional notion of leaders and followers, and instead embracing the concept of leaders and leaders. This method of leadership is based on empowerment, not ego, and process, not personality.

Based on his first-hand experience leading and turning around organizations, David Marquet espouses the following three overarching principles:

  • Practical Empowerment: rejecting the notion of leaders and followers, instead having leaders and leaders
  • Technical Competence: having a zealous dedication to preparation and knowing our craft
  • Continuous Improvement: embracing learning as the primary activity of the organization[vii]


On Friday morning (Feb. 10), I saw one of David’s inspirational posts.  It said, “Leadership is an action, not a position.”  This simple quotation inspired me at that moment, and I thought about what David was saying.  Nothing happens without action.  Too often, people who call themselves ‘leaders’ fail their followers by not leading, and not inspiring action through those followers.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves about leadership, and it bothers me that there are followers out there who are not being properly led.  It bothers me that this kind of leader does not care about the fundamental growth of their followers.  It bothers me that those followers are not finding the success they deserve because they have inept leaders who care only about their next promotion.

The leader-leader movement was started by Mr. Marquet after he saw first-hand the debilitating effects of leader-follower, the limitations of empowerment programs, and the liberating power of treating everyone as leaders.[viii]  His goal is to change the way we interact as humans in a way that nourishes the natural proactivity, initiative, and creative energy of everyone.  His call to action is to develop leaders at every level and to empower people; people throughout an organization.[ix]

My response to David’s quote was this:

“Give a leader a title, he’s only as ‘good’ as his character will allow.

Give a leader a responsibility, he’s only as ‘good’ as his people.

But, give a leader the title of coach & mentor,

and give him the responsibility to develop his people in a servant style,

and he goes from ‘good’ to GREAT.”

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson


Related Articles -

No Room for followers: A Guide to Creating Leaders at Every Level by David Marquet

Re-Imagining Leadership, Re-Energizing the Workplace by David Marquet

“Empowerment in action” – Santa Fe’s lessons at work in the private sector- By Andy Worshek – Practicum Newsletter, September 2010

If You Want Your People to Perform, Don’t Give Them Permission…Give Them Intent – (

How We Learn from our Mistakes on Nuclear Submarines: A 7 Step Process – (

How We Made Leader-Leader Work on Santa Fe (Written by David Adams) – (

How Does a Manager’s Leadership Style Influence Effectiveness? Provide example (

Are Businesses Doing Enough to Encourage Leadership within their Organisation? – (

A SEAL Mission – (

Marquet Relieves Toti as Commander, Submarine Squadron 3 – (

Seven Key Benefits of an Empowered Workplace – (

Do You Have Faith in Your People? – (

*In my research of the Navy’s think tank, Deep Blue, I found the following article in the February 2006 issue of Seapower (Vol. 49, Number 2, page 6), The official publication of the Navy League of the United States, which discussed the broader role of Deep Blue as dictated under Admiral Mike Mullen (at the time, Chief of Naval Operations, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff):

A Broader Role For Deep Blue

Deep Blue, an internal Navy think tank founded in the wake of 9/11, is being given a far broader role within the service by Adm. Mike Mullen, chief of naval operations (CNO).

Deep Blue’s primary bailiwick was to provide the CNO with ideas about how to better support joint combat operations and advise him on his roles as the Navy’s service chief and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But Mullen has expanded its purview to include short-notice staging of naval and joint force maritime component commanders to provide “deliberate, contingency, crisis and exercise planning.” Top officials of Deep Blue began reaching out months ago to Navy component commanders to support their planning needs and bolster tepid support within some sectors of the Navy. The office now is internally being revamped to handle its broader role under Mullen’s aegis.

Deep Blue’s new role is envisioned as similar to that of Checkmate, the lair of Air Force air and space power strategists that provides the Air Staff and warfighters with options that are logistically supportable and politically feasible. Founded in the mid-1970s, Checkmate provides research, analysis, operational planning and strategic concepts development.

Rear Adm. (Sel.) Philip H. Cullom, Deep Blue director, told Seapower that the office’s “CNO-directed realignment is consistent with its latest portfolio of current projects, which includes operational plan development, introduction of new technology to the fleet, global war on terrorism initiatives, naval operational concept development, the use of advanced analytics in data management and a number of classified efforts.”

Deep Blue’s broader mission includes projects such as real-world planning in the Pacific and maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf.[x]


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Footnotes -

[i-a,b] – The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association – West 2009 – Documents: David Marquet – Accessed 10 February 2012 –

[ii-a,b,c]Practicum Inc. – About Us” – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Practicum, Inc. –

[iii-a,b,c,d] “Empowerment in Action – Santa Fe’s Lessons at Work in the Private Sector” – By Andy Worshek – Practicum Newsletter, September 2010 – – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Practicum, Inc. –

[iv] “If You Want Your People to Perform, Don’t Give Them Permission…Give them Intent” – By Simon Sinek – Posted 01/30/2009 – – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Re:Focus (Simple Ideas to Help You Thrive) –

[v-a,b,c,d,e,f,g] “Marquet Hands Over Reins of Submarine Squadron 3” – By Lori Cravalho – Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs – Story Number: NNS050924-02, Posted 09/24/2005 – – Accessed 10 February 2012 – (Official Website of the United States Navy) –

[vi] “Welcome! Practicum Develops Leaders” – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Practicum, Inc. –

[vii] “Programs” – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Practicum, Inc. –

[viii] “Leader-Leader Blog – About” – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Leader-Leader (The Movement) –

[ix] “David Marquet – LinkedIn Profile” – Accessed, via subscription to LinkedIn and authorized connection with Mr. Marquet, 10 February 2012 – LinkedIn –

[x] “A Broader Role For Deep Blue”SEAPOWER Magazine (The Official Publication of the Navy League of the United States), February 2006 (Vol. 49, Number 2, page 6) – – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Navy League of the United States –

Photo Credits -

Capt. L. David Marquet is piped ashore after being relieved by Capt. Joseph Tofalo as Commander, Submarine Squadron Three - photo by Lori Cravalho, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs – – Accessed 10 February 2012 –
David Marquet and USS Santa Fe Returning From Deployment – Practicum, Inc. – Accessed 10 February 2012 –
USS Santa Fe Logo – USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) – – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet –

Fundamentals of Naval Leadership

Posted in Books, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

by Department of Leadership and law, U S. Naval Academy ~ Karel Montor

The Navy defines leadership as the art, science, or gift by which a person is enabled and privileged to direct the thoughts, plans, and actions of others in such a manner as to obtain and command their obedience, their confidence, their respect, and their loyal cooperation.  Simply stated, leadership is the art of accomplishing the Navy’s mission through people.[i]  To accomplish this, the Navy leader employs the principles of leadership, core values and the qualities that lead to success.  A Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, a student participating in an ROTC program, or an individual going through Officer Candidate School (OCS) are introduced to the fundamental leadership skills necessary to become a successful Naval and Marine Corps officer.

“Fundamentals of Naval Leadership” is a Naval Academy text book, and is the companion piece to “Naval Leadership: Voices of Experience – Second Edition.”  In essence, the book builds from the discussion of the concepts of leadership; human behavior, motivating people (and ourselves), conflict resolution, evaluating performance, the structure and function of groups.  In the second half of the book, it transitions into discussion of the dynamic qualities of leadership that are required to be successful; moral leadership, leading by example, and virtues & traits.  It finishes with the topics of personal relations with people, counseling & interviewing, discipline, training, and organization & administration.  Of course, as a military academy text book, it covers aspects of being a Naval (or Marine Corps) Officer in the greatest Navy in the World; rights, responsibilities, code of conduct, traditions & customs, etc.  The parallel to managing and leading in the business world are obvious, and it is easy to interchange military and branch-specific references to themes, situations and experiences in a civilian corporate environment.  At the end of the text book, there are case studies, again geared toward leading in the Navy.  The situations and scenarios are comparable to day-to-day experiences to any manager in any field of expertise.  The book goes back to basics, and presents the many aspects of leadership at almost an introductory level – approaches to and styles of leadership, examples of effective leadership, the psychology of leadership, and the factors and traits of the effective leader – to teach its readers to become more effective leaders.[ii]

The Naval tradition places special emphasis on the development of leadership ability. This emphasis is found with regard to both institutional efforts and individual efforts. Elaborating on the responsibility of naval officers to develop leadership skills,[iii] Admiral William V. Pratt (Chief of Naval Operations – 1930 to 1933) said, “The greatest problem facing the career naval officer is leadership.  Yet this most important factor in a man’s life frequently is allowed to grow like a flower in a garden surrounded by rank weeds.  So many feel that if they follow the average course of naval life, experience will finally give them the qualities of the great leader, and opportunity may reward them with high command.  Few realize that the growth to sound leadership is a life’s work.  Ambition alone will not encompass it, and if ambition alone be a man’s sole qualification, he is indeed a sorry reed to lean upon in time of stress.  The path of qualification for leadership is a long, hard road to travel.  It is a path of life.  It envisages all of a man’s character, his thoughts, aims, and conduct of life.  It requires the wisdom and judgment of the statesman, the keen perception of the strategist and tactician, the executive ability of the seaman; but above all, it requires sterling worth of character and great human understanding and sympathy.[iv]

In his Forward to the second edition of Naval Leadership, Admiral Arleigh Burke (Chief of Naval Operations – 1955 to 1961) wrote, “No matter what mark an officer may leave in history by his deeds in battle, or in intellectual contributions, or in material inventions, his greatest legacy to his country will be the example he has given as a man and as a leader of men.”[v]
United States Naval Academy page banner

The Naval Academy has a unique clarity of purpose, expressed in their mission:

“To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.”[vi]


This was one of the books I listed in last week’s “The Development of a Reading Program,” and is the second book I will read from my 2012 reading list.  I encourage you to go online to order a copy for yourself and add it to your library.  If you are interested in learning more about this book, and would like to acquire it, please visit this link at
 Copyright © Dale R. Wilson
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Footnotes -

[i] Montor, Karel, Anthony J. Ciotti, and Malcolm E. Wolfe. Fundamentals of Naval Leadership. The Department of Leadership and Law, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 1984. page 1. (The definition of leadership is adapted from Naval Leadership, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1939, page 1, and Frederick Ellsworth Wolf, A.M., Leadership in the New Age, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1946, page 3)

[ii] ibid.

[iii] Al-Harbi, Toraiheeb. Navy Definitions of Leadership and LMET/NAVLEAD Competency Clusters Compared to Selected Leadership Theories. Thesis. Naval Postgraduate School, 1995. – Accessed 7 February 2012.  The Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC®) –

[iv] Montor, Karel, Anthony J. Ciotti, and Malcolm E. Wolfe. Fundamentals of Naval Leadership. The Department of Leadership and Law, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 1984. page 77. (from Selected Readings in Leadership, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1957, page 1)

[v] ibid. page xviii. (from the Forward to the second edition of Naval Leadership, the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, 1959)

[vi] Mission of USNA – – Accessed 7 February 2012 – United States Naval Academy | Home Page –

The Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Vice Admiral (VADM) James Bond Stockdale was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, a fighter pilot and one of the most highly decorated officers of the Navy.  In September 1965, he ejected out of his A-4E Skyhawk over North Vietnam.  For eight years, Admiral Stockdale was held prisoner and was frequently tortured.  He organized the American’s resistance against the North Vietnamese.  VADM Stockdale was awarded 26 personal combat decorations and four Silver Stars.  In 1976, he received the Medal of Honor.  From October 1977 until August 1979, he served as president of the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.  Admiral Stockdale died in 2005 and is buried at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), presented the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award to two commanders at the Pentagon in the Hall of Heroes on January 5th.  The Navy established the award more than three decades ago, in part to recognize VADM Stockdale’s distinguished naval career that symbolizes the highest standards of excellence in both personal character, example and leadership.  The annual honor recognizes two active-duty commanding officers, one from each coast, below the rank of captain, who are in command of a single ship, submarine, aviation squadron, or operational warfare unit, whose service shows personal character and excellent leadership.  These commanders are nominated by their peers, and recommended by their fleet commanders, for consideration by a panel of senior officers.

Commander (CDR) Robert B. Chadwick II, representing the Atlantic fleet, former commanding officer (CO) of the USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), based in Mayport, Florida, and CDR Gerald N. Miranda Jr., representing the Pacific Fleet, former CO of the San Diego-based submarine USS Asheville (SSN 758), both received this year’s award.  They were given the award due to their leadership, personal initiative, exemplary performance and contribution to the overall success of the operational units they commanded.  By receiving this award, they are considered to be the best in the fleet, according to their peers.

CDR Chadwick credited his success to his crew on the Roosevelt.  “Although this award is being presented to me I honestly feel as though it is a unit award,” said Chadwick. “This award is for inspirational leadership and if that is true inspiration flowed both ways because I was inspired every day by the Sailors of Roosevelt. I won’t presume that I fully earned it the highest compliment I could receive would be that I was a commanding officer that Roosevelt’s remarkable crew deserved and I accept this award on their behalf.”

Chadwick said, “I was inspired every day by the sailors of Roosevelt” and “Whenever you are in a leadership position, your mindset needs to be, I am here for them…I think where leaders can get in trouble is if they ever take the approach, ‘They are here for me’. If you take that service approach, ‘I can only be successful if they are successful’, then I think you can’t go wrong.”

Chadwick said part of his leadership style is to build the confidence of sailors and give them the opportunities they need to succeed. That worked well on the Roosevelt, he said.

CDR Miranda said that, to him, the Stockdale award means being a role model for crew members and commanding officers both at work and at home.  “Although my name is on the plaque, it’s really a crew award. Without my courageous and dedicated crew this recognition would not be possible. Each and every Sailor onboard shares in this award’s prestige; they are a group of ordinary men doing extraordinary things,” said Miranda.  “Being a commanding officer is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year job that requires constant and unrelenting standards,” Miranda said. “It means doing the right thing all the time regardless of the obstacles and pressures to do otherwise, as well as being the example for others to follow.”


Command Leadership is a challenging undertaking, even under the best of circumstances.  Being in command of these ships and squadrons is not all about winning awards and accolades.  It’s about leading Sailors through some of the toughest personal and professional challenges imaginable.[i]

The Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale award embodies all of what the core values and leadership principles represent.  The recipients of this award have demonstrated their ability to gain the trust of their respective crews, have gained their loyalty, and have ultimately succeeded at inspiring and influencing them to accomplish the mission of the ship.  These two Naval officers were proud, yet unselfish in their acceptance of this award; giving all of the credit to their respective crews.  In the military, officers don’t spend a lot of time bragging about what they’ve accomplished.  They focus on how they can help their team.  They instill a sense of belief in their people, and, in turn, their people are confident that they can accomplish their goals and objectives.  Officers in the military should not focus on advancing their careers, as much as they should work to advance the knowledge and experience of their subordinates.

Commander Chadwick and Commander Miranda have demonstrated their ability to influence others through emotionally intelligent interaction, ability to demonstrate a strong team approach, and ability to understand the personal and professional motivators of their crew that provided the impetus for organizational progress.  Congratulations to both of these fine officers and gentlemen.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

Sources –

“Sub CO, former skipper earn top Navy honor” – By Jill Laster (staff writer) – Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2011 – – Accessed 17 January 2012 –

“31st Annual Stockdale Leadership Awards Presented by CNO” – By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shannon Burns, Defense Media Activity – Navy – Release Date: January 5, 2012 – – Accessed 17 January 2012 –

“ ‘Aye-Aye Skipper!’ There Should Be More Stories Like This… ” – By Darlene Iskra – Posted January 17, 2012 – Battleland Blog (where military intelligence is not a contradiction in terms) – – Accessed 17 January 2012 –

Footnote – 

[i] Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award Winners: A League of Extraordinary Officers and Gentlemen – By Captain Mike Lambert – The Real Navy, accessed 17 January 2012

Photo Credits -

Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shannon Burns, Defense Media Activity – Navy – Accessed 17 January 2012 –

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