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Leadership Nudge™ – Know All, Tell Not

Today we’re gonna talk about the four quadrants where leaders can operate.

Here we have Know All, Know Not, Tell All, and Tell Not.

As a leader, I always thought you wanted to be a Know All/Tell All leader. Since the leader knew everything, they were the natural person to give all the orders and since we had someone giving all the orders, well, they really better know everything.

I’m suggesting that a better place to be, long-term as a leader, is over here in the Know All, but Tell Not quadrant. Why?

Because, over here is where you resist telling your team what to do. Even though you may see the problem first, you may see the solution first, you say “Hey, take thirty seconds”, (thirty minutes, thirty days, whatever you can) , “go work on it and come back, then tell me what you intend to do.”

It might not seem like you’re making progress, but what’s happening is, you’re building your team’s leadership muscle. They’re building their independence from you, they’re building their ability to make decisions, and they’re building their leadership.

So where you want to be is a Know All, but Tell Not leader.

I’m David Marquet, that’s your leadership nudge.

Leadership Nudge™ – Inject Blue Work

You can think of red work or blue work as the ‘kind of work you do over time’.

At the end of your workday, you will likely face a decision: “Do I go home? Do I go to the gym? Do I go to the pub?” That is blue work. You are making a decision.

You get in your car and as you drive there, you won’t stop at every intersection and revisit that decision. “Oh, am I going home or going to the pub?”

Blue work is the decision making work. It’s cognitive. It embraces variability. Red work is cognitively easy. Our brain can relax and we enter “auto-mode”. We reduce variability.

As an example, on the submarine, we would view tasks as a series of red work. During the course of regular tasks we might be scheduled to enter port at ten o’clock. Before entering port, we would have a briefing. Essentially, we were just reviewing everyone’s tasks. We didn’t view this as a decision process. We changed that. We canceled all the briefs and replaced it with what we called a “certification”. We said, “Look, let’s make a decision. Are we ready to come to port?” We turned this bit of red work into blue work. Instead of having a long series of red work, we injected blue work throughout the day, and that blue work is what activated people’s leadership.

For us, it was entering port, for you it might be starting a procedure in the operating room, pushing an airplane back from the gate and getting ready for a flight or firing up an important piece of equipment. The central idea is, inject “Blue Work”. Make a decision. Activate the cognitive part of the brain, and turn people into leaders.

I’m David Marquet and this is your leadership nudge.

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge – www.davidmarquet.com

Click here to read my Forbes article on mentoring programs and why you don’t want to have one.

Leadership Nudge™ – Invite Your Team To Yellow Card You

We all have areas where we want to improve. For me personally, these are things like listening or being more empathetic. A great way to help you improve is to invite your team to give you feedback; invite them to “Yellow Card” you.

You can hand out physical cards to your team and tell them “Hey, if you don’t feel like I was listening in that last encounter, push out the yellow card, just like in a soccer game”. (Football for our international friends).

You may find that they are reluctant to use the yellow card. They may feel like they are calling you out or that it’s embarrassing. Tell them, “Look, you are helping me. I want to get better, and when you yellowcard me, it helps me identify when I’m interacting poorly.”

Now here’s the thing: You’ll likely get yellowcarded when you’re under stress. You may be under pressure, didn’t sleep well, or eat well. Stress can push you down into your “reactive mode”. That’s when you may have poor interactions and your team will yellowcard you. This is where you will find it hard. You’re already stressed and you may be tempted to respond poorly to seeing the yellowcard.

Here’s what you do: Train yourself! When you see the yellowcard, take a breath and thank your team member. “Hey, thanks for yellowcarding me and giving me that feedback.”

Let us know how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge – www.davidmarquet.com

Click here to read my Forbes article on mentoring programs and why you don’t want to have one.

Increase the Blue Work

Leadership Nudge – Increase the Blue Work

In Leadership Nudge 127 we introduced the concept of red work and blue work. Blue work is decision work. It is cognitive work. It’s leadership work. Red work is execution. It’s the doing. It’s physical. It’s process. It’s compliant work.

One way to view your organization is to look at who is doing red work and who is doing blue work. In the very traditional industrial age organizational design you didn’t need a lot of people doing blue work. Most organizations had just one person at the top doing the blue work. They are deciding what we are going to make and how we are going to make it. Everyone else is doing what they are told.

One of the ideas behind red work and blue work is to increase the number of people doing blue work. Push blue work further down the organization. We build more leaders as we get more people thinking and more people involved in making decisions. We change our hierarchy from a little blue and a lot of to red to mostly blue!

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

Look at your organization to see who is doing red work, and who is doing the blue work. See if you can increase the amount of blue work that people are doing lower in the hierarchy.

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge – www.davidmarquet.com

Click here to read my Forbes article on mentoring programs and why you don’t want to have one.


Make It Easy For People To Share

Leadership Nudge – Make It Easy For People To Share

One of the things that is most important for leaders to do is help uncover what the team knows. A leader makes it easy for people to share what they know. One of the great tools to make it easy are these probability cards. The key is don’t ask questions like;

“Are we sure?”

“Should we do this, yes or no?”

Instead, pass out Probability cards and ask questions like;

“How sure are you?”

Or “What’s your enthusiasm for this project?”

Or “What’s the probability that this assumption will come true?”

Have everyone around the table play one of their cards. You are going to get a range of responses, which is great. The probability cards have these seven numbers; 1, 5, 20, 50, 80, 95, and 99. There is no zero and no 100. There is also a question mark card. We use this card when someone needs more information before they can commit.

So here’s how it works. Invite the team to each select an appropriate card.  You can play them face down or face up. If it’s a high trust team you can play them face up.  After the cards are played, the leaders should scan the table and look for the high and the low response. The reason we do this is to give voice to the high perspective and give voice to the low perspective. We call it embracing the outlier. Only after that can you make the best decision. That can happen because you have uncovered what everybody thinks.

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

Replace “Are you sure?” with “How sure are you?”

Let us know what how it goes!

Click here to find the Probability Cards we use.

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge –  www.davidmarquet.com 

Click here to read my Forbes article on mentoring programs and why you don’t want to have one.

How Sure Are You?

Leadership Nudge –  HOW SURE ARE YOU?

When you are in France, it’s ok to say “Bien sur.” But in English you don’t want to ask the question “are you sure?” It’s provocative and you don’t really learn anything. We tend to ask because we want to test and probe to see that the person is really confident in what they are saying, but a better way to ask that is to say “how sure are you?” or “how confident are you?” Even better, “what do you see that is making you come to this conclusion?” When we ask “how sure are you?” it trains your brain to give people opportunity to share what they know and what they have learned that helped them make decisions.

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

Replace “Are you sure?” with “How sure are you?”

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge –  www.davidmarquet.com

Why Your Resolutions Won’t Stick


If you’re like most people you are going to make or you’ve already made a New Year’s resolution. And if you’re like most people you’re going to fail. Here’s why: Number one, it wasn’t specific enough. You said something like “Oh, I’m going to lose weight.” Or “I’m going to be healthier.” Number two, you didn’t set an actual plan. You talked about the outcome but not the way to get there. And number three. You didn’t set a formal accountability partner – someone who you trust and respect that you’re going to report and feel accountable to in terms of this progress.

So, if you really want to keep your New Year’s resolution, say something like this. Let’s take weight loss, which is the number one resolution most years. You say to yourself, “Hey, on December 1st, I’m going to weigh less than 180 pounds by keeping a food log of everything that I eat and not eating bread after lunch. And I’m going to have a weekly call with my brother who’s going to hold me accountable to that behavior.”

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

To achieve your New Year’s resolution – be specific – have a detailed plan – commit to an accountability partner!

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge –  www.davidmarquet.com

Give Control First

Leadership Nudge – GIVE CONTROL FIRST 

One of the fundamental concepts of Intent-Based Leadership™ is the relationship between how much control, how much decision making authority we can give people, and their level of competence and clarity. Generally, we say leaders need to tune the level of control to the level of competence and clarity. We explained that concept in Leadership Nudge 131- Avoid Chaos Tune Control and we call that figure 1a.


This week we are explaining figure 1b. This figure shows how we help our teams move up and to the right. What is happening is that algorithms and bots keep eating up the low end of this curve. There are two key things to understand about figure 1b. Number one, is the steps are small. We want to move in small positive steps. Number two is the first step is up. In other words, the leader has to give more control first. This allows the person to expose their level of competence and clarity. We normally think that when our teams demonstrate competence and clarity (moving right on figure 1b), then I am going to give you more control. That is the perspective of the leader.

If you are team member, your job is to do the exact opposite. Your job is to be transparent and open with your boss about how much competence and clarity that you have. That it makes it easy for him or her to give you more control.

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

Give control first.

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge –  www.davidmarquet.com

Scripting for Teams

Leadership Nudge – SCRIPTING FOR TEAMS

Have you ever seen a really high performing team operating where people are saying things and everyone know exactly what the other person is doing? They are getting the right information at exactly the right time. Well, that comes about because of scripting. Scripting is where we choose the words or we deliberately script up the words that we are going to say to make the procedure happen.

Most procedures state a sequence of operations – what needs to happen. Often they don’t say the words that are needed to make those things happen. There may be information that another team member needs that I have, or the information someone else has that I need.

So what we do is. If you have multiple shifts, you have each shift take a whack at the script and then they pass the script from shift to shift. Each shift iterates the script. It’s great training because they have a physical thing that you can check. And they are each building on each other’s work. And at the end they have a better sense of what they all need to say to make the thing happen.

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

Try writing the script for a process or procedure and let your team edit it.

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge –  www.davidmarquet.com

Leadership is a Practice


When implementing Intend -Based Leadership within your organization, it takes practice and dedication just like a soccer or football team. Daily, weekly, bi-monthly or monthly practice sessions are vital in order to have greater consistency over a period of time.

In difficult circumstances or in time management projects, you may want to take back control and start telling people what to do again. However, resist the urge to give orders, keep up the momentum and by doing so you will see great benefits within your leadership team and your organization.

Momentum can be defined as; the strength or force that allows something to continue to grow stronger or faster as time passes.

We encourage you to;

  • Keep giving control
  • Resist the urge of telling people what to do
  • Keep seeing leaders at every level

Keep scaling up the ladder of leadership with your team by saying:

  • What do you see?
  • What do you think?
  • What would you like to do?
  • What do you intend to do?

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

Practice, practice, practice!

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge –  www.davidmarquet.com

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