David Marquet - Intent Based Leadership: Create Leaders at Every Level

Monthly Archives: October 2016

Flatten the Power Gradient


Today we are talking about the concept of the power gradient. The power gradient is how much more authority or power does a person higher in the hierarchy feel like they have compared to someone lower in the hierarchy. Or, how much less do the people below me feel like they have? You want to have an optimal power gradient.

Proxies for the power gradient can be salaries, office size, or a myriad of other things, but it is really about the feeling I have when I go in and talk to my boss.

Power gradients that are too steep are not healthy for the organization. People in this environment are intimidated and are afraid to talk to their bosses. Totally flat power gradients are also not optimal. In those environments there is confusion about who gets to make what decisions, and it is a little bit of a mess.

An excellent metaphor for the power gradient is that of a river. You want a gently flowing river. Too steep and you have rapids. Too shallow and you have a stagnant river.

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

Think about the power gradient in your organization. It will be very difficult for you to affect the power gradient up, but you can definitely affect the power gradient for the people who work for you. If you think it might be a little bit steep, take actions to flatten the power gradient. Go to their level, visit their shops, their offices, their cubicles. Let them sit in your chair so that they feel a little bit closer to you.

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge –  www.davidmarquet.com

Check out this new course  – https://hwt89810.isrefer.com/go/IBL/DMarquet/

Move Authority to Information


This week’s Leadership Nudge is about one of the algorithms by which you operate your hierarchy. One of our principles is we push authority to information, not channel information to authority. Here is a simple way to change a little bit in your organization.

Let’s say you have a current routing process where a form is submitted, then reviewed by a level or two, and then approved at the highest levels in your organization. It might look like this;


What we suggest that you do, and this is our nudge to you this week, is to simply move the final approval down one level but keep the process routing to the top. In other words, the process now looks like this;


The former final authority still sees what is happening, but the final approval rests in the hands of the next lower level.

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

Take at least one form and change it from submitted-reviewed-reviewed-approved to submitted-reviewed-approved-informed.

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge – www.davidmarquet.com

Check out this new course – https://hwt89810.isrefer.com/go/IBL/DMarquet/


A Bias For Action

Leadership Nudge – A BIAS FOR ACTION

This week’s Leadership Nudge is about creating an organization with a bias for action. It starts with our mind set when we come to work. What is our goal, are we focused on avoiding errors or achieving excellence?

Is our mind set focused on avoiding errors? Do we find ourselves thinking, “Hey I just want to avoid making a mistake?” There are many things that sound like avoiding mistakes. Do we hear or see words like:

We are going to reduce the number of accidents. And maybe we have a big poster that states the                same.

We are going to minimize the variability on this process.

If our focus is all about avoiding errors, it creates a bias toward passivity. We know the best way to avoid errors is to not make any decisions.

Instead we want to have organizations where the mindset is focused on building something, on achieving greatness, on achieving excellence! We cannot achieve greatness by avoiding making decisions.

Of course, there will be mistakes made in the pursuit of excellence, but this cannot be an excuse. What I found is that in this quest to achieve greatness, the severity and number of mistakes are going to naturally be reduced. Our focus needs to be on achieving something. This leads to a bias for action.

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

Take a look at your annual evaluations. Take a look at your organizational objectives. Take a look at the posters around your organization. Look to see if these things are more about reducing errors or about achieving greatness. When you see the “error reduction” language, try to rephrase them in terms of “We are going to achieve something.”

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge –  www.davidmarquet.com

Check out this new course  – https://hwt89810.isrefer.com/go/IBL/DMarquet/


Stop Telling People What To Do


This week’s Leadership Nudge comes from my visit to France. I was in Saint-Tropez where I saw some incredibly beautiful sail boats. I am always amazed at how well the crews function when sailing these magnificent craft. When these guys round the mark there’s not a lot of yelling and telling people what to do. Everybody onboard knows exactly what to do and they do it without being told.

We can get human organizations to pretty high levels of performance by telling people what to do. To get the highest level, which is the only thing we are interested in at Turn the Ship Around, LLC, you have to stop telling people what to do.

A crew on a sailboat like the one I saw in Saint-Tropez rounding a mark, a NASCAR team in a pit stop, or a submarine crew bringing on a SEAL team are great examples of human organizations operating at the highest levels. In all those cases people are doing what they know needs to be done, and not waiting to be told what to do.

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

In some small way stop telling your people what to do. Just wait 30 seconds and let them struggle with the decision. Instead of telling them what to do, try asking questions like this; “Hey, what would you do? What do you think? Tell me more about that.” That is when they will be doing their leadership pushups and developing their ability to make decisions.

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge –  www.davidmarquet.com

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