In Memory of Dr. Stephen R. Covey (1932 – 2012)
A Guest Post by David Marquet
Stephen Covey’s Ride on the USS Santa Fe
By David Marquet
With sadness, we learn of the passing of Stephen Covey [yesterday], age 79.
Stephen had a tremendous impact not only on my life, but, through me, on the lives of those I had the privilege to lead. It started indirectly, when, after a period of reflection and tough going, I discovered The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The overall approach of private victory, then public victory, describing our growth as proceeding from dependence through independence to interdependence, struck me as incredibly simple, yet powerful. I applied what I learned to my life immediately.
Later, when assigned to command the USS Santa Fe, I applied his 7 Habits approach at the organizational level. I gave every officer and chief who reported a copy of his book. We would have seminars discussing the various habits, and the application of those habits made Santa Fe a more effective submarine.
It turned out that Stephen was doing some work for the navy and learned about what we were doing on Santa Fe. He expressed an interest in riding the ship and the navy set it up. We were scheduled to conduct a one-day transit from the port of Lahaina, on the neighboring island of Maui, back to Pearl Harbor. This would be a perfect time for him to ride. It was also when we had set up a family member cruise and were expecting about 80 family members to ride, as well.
I was apprehensive about having both events at the same time. I thought the presence of the family members would present a distorted picture of how Santa Fe operated. Further, I wasn’t sure how I’d appropriately apportion my time between running Santa Fe, Stephen, and the family members.
It worked out perfectly! Stephen was working on a book for families and held a special talk just for the family members. His message was that they played a critically important role in the success of the ship, and placed high value on family. It was a win-win.
Stephen spent the entire day onboard, talking with crew members, looking through the periscope and driving the ship. He was tremendously interested in the people, and how they worked together. Everyone he talked to felt better about themselves afterward, especially me.
He remained interested in how Santa Fe did and was happy to hear of the subsequent successes the ship had, including the selection of 9 of the officers for submarine command. I was honored that he included USS Santa Fe in his book, The Eight Habit, and agreed to write the forward to Turn the Ship Around!
Stephen, thank you for your influence, clear thinking, and enthusiasm for life. We will miss you. (1)
[Stephen Covey rode the USS Santa Fe with commanding officer David Marquet in 2000]
*Reprinted with permission from the blog, “Leader-Leader,“ by L. David Marquet. Originally posted on July 16, 2012.
Copyright © 2012 by Louis David Marquet.
Throughout his career, Dr. Covey had many unique and fascinating experiences. Dr. Covey chronicled his time spent on the USS Santa Fe with Captain Marquet. Here is what Dr. Covey wrote about that experience:
I was training U.S. Navy officers in leadership during the dot.com era, when someone told me about an exemplary leader named Captain David Marquet, Captain of the U.S.S. Santa Fe, who never lost anyone, in spite of the hellish conditions submarine personnel are required to endure.
An opportunity arose, which I jumped at. I was invited to board Captain Marquet’s sub and interview him. Never before had I observed such empowerment. We stood on the bridge of this multibillion-dollar nuclear submarine with a football field of vessel in front of and behind us. A young officer approached the Captain and said, “Sir, I intend to take this ship down 400 feet.” Captain Marquet asked about the sonar and sounding and then instructed this young man to give us another twenty minutes on the bridge before carrying out his intention.
Throughout the day, people approached the captain intending to do this or do that. The Captain would sometimes ask a question or two, but then say, “Very well.” He reserved only the top decisions for his own confirmation and empowered others to make the rest. He said he wanted to empower his people as far as he possibly could within the Navy’s confines. He felt if he required them to own the problem and the solution to it, they would begin to view themselves as a vitally important link in the chain of command. He created a culture where those sailors had a real sense of adding value.
Months after my sub ride, Captain Marquet wrote to inform me that the U.S.S. Santa Fe was awarded the Arleigh Burke Trophy for most improved submarine, ship, or aviation squadron in the Pacific. (2)
If you liked this post, you’ll definitely like this post —> Some Final Thoughts from Dr. Stephen R. Covey
“I Intend To” – More Than a Recommendation (championsclubcommunity.com)
What I Learned from Stephen Covey: Begin with the End in Mind (posted 18 July 2012) (leader-leader.com/blog)
Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment) (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)
Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)
Up Scope! (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)
Teach Your People to “Think Out Loud” to Enable Them to Maintain Control (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)
(1) Stephen Covey’s Ride on the USS Santa Fe – http://leader-leader.com/blog/2012/07/16/stephen-covey-tribute-uss-santa-fe/ – Accessed 16 July 2012 – Leader-Leader The Movement – http://leader-leader.com/blog/
This entry was posted on July 17, 2012 at 7:49 am and is filed under Miscellaneous with tags author, David Marquet, Dr. Stephen Covey, inspiration, leadership, Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The 8th Habit, Turn The Ship Around, USS Santa Fe. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.