Agile Atelier

Episode 32: Servant Leadership with L. David Marquet

Hello to all listeners. Welcome to today’s Agile Atelier episode, where I chat with L. David Marquet on the topic of Servant Leadership. David is a retired United States Navy captain and bestselling author of Turn the Ship Around and Leadership is Language. He was the commander of the submarine USS Santa Fe, a submarine that he turned from the worst in the fleet to being the most successful by using an intent-based model of leadership. He became captain of the submarine in 1999 and since his retirement the submarine has continued to win awards. Since then David has worked as a leadership expert. He speaks to audiences globally about creating workplaces where people are healthier and happier because they have more control over their work.

We start this episode by talking about David’s background prior to starting in the US Navy and how modern leadership with a personality-based approach does not work. David talks about the need to have the team become less dependent on you and why, in this age, we need to embrace variability instead of reducing it. We also chat on the importance of time horizons for any approach, planning poker-type conversations in the submarine, the architecture of a decision-making factory, and the difference between decision-evaluators and decision-makers. David then tells us about how he decides which decisions he needs to be a part of, and gives the listeners tips on how to not ask binary questions and how to be more specific when asking for feedback. We touch on different examples from the workplace and David’s personal life. Lastly, we wrap up the episode by chatting about what servant leadership means to David, and how to design the work around the people rather than designing the people around the process. Having this chat with David was eye-opening for me – I hope you enjoy it.

In this episode, David mentioned his Leadership Nudges YouTube channel simplifies the concepts and mechanisms from the books into 1-minute bite-sized. You can also sign up for a weekly email on intent-based leadership with this link. Want to hear David rate submarines in the movies for realism, in a light-hearted video? Look no further and check this out. Lastly, here’s a wildly popular YouTube video explaining the concept of intent-based leadership. You can connect with David on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Episode 32: Servant Leadership with L. David Marquet

Subscribe and listen on iTunes or Spotify!

Providing intent means giving enough clarity over what you’re trying to achieve so that each of your team members can make decisions about the product, interaction with the client, operating the assembly line – whatever it happens to be.


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