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Leadership is Language L. David Marquet

The hidden power of what you say, and what you don't

October 22, 2021 - 344 words - 2 mins Found a typo? Edit me
leadership people

A radical playbook to empower your people and put your team on a path to continuous improvement.

In this book, the former submarine commander Captain L. David Marquet dives deep into one of the most investigated marine disasters, the sinking of the El Faro, and surfaces with new ideas on leadership and language.

You might imagine that an effective leader is someone who makes quick, intelligent decisions, gives inspiring speeches, and issues clear orders to their team, so they can execute a plan to achieve your organization’s goals. Unfortunately, that’s an outdated model of leadership that just doesn’t work anymore.

Your words matter more than you think.

David gives six plays that all leaders should use to improve how their teams operate. He says a big problem with leaders today is that they are trapped in an industrial-age playbook. In the industrial age leaders gave commands and employees followed, and that was it. But that way of leading is no longer effective, it is outdated.

The six plays

  • Control the clock, don’t obey the clock–Pre-plan decision points and give your people the tools they need to hit pause on a plan of action if they notice something wrong.
  • Collaborate, don’t coerce–As the leader, you should be the last one to offer your opinion.
  • Commit, don’t comply–Rather than expect your team to comply with specific directions, explain your overall goals, and get their commitment to achieving it one piece at a time.
  • Complete, not continue–If every day feels like a repetition of the last, you’re doing something wrong.
  • Improve, don’t prove–Ask your people to improve on plans and processes, rather than prove that they can meet fixed goals or deadlines.
  • Connect, don’t conform–Flatten hierarchies in your organization and connect with your people to encourage them to contribute to decision-making

Video Summary


350 pages