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

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Leadership Nudge™ – Let It Go!

I’m here at the UCLA Business School where they’re teaching young people how to relentlessly make things better.

I love the drive for improvement, but remember: if you’re never satisfied with what your people deliver, it can be very dispiriting for them.

So, here’s the play: let it go.

The next time you receive something, (it could be a report or a product, whatever), if it’s good enough, just accept it the way it is. (Even if you see a way to make it better.)

Celebrate with your people and move on.

I’m David Marquet. That’s your Leadership Nudge.

Leadership Nudge™ – Give Up the Wheel

Leaders, your mission, should you choose to accept it: let someone else drive.

This is a nudge that helps you give up control.

Do you like to be the person that’s always behind the wheel?

Start practicing giving up control. Train your brain how it feels when you’re not in control.

Deal with those anxieties by letting someone else drive.

That will make it easier for you when you’re at work to say, “Hey team, it’s your decision.”

Let me know how it goes.

Leadership Nudge™ – Let Them Say Yes!

Let’s talk about how we ask questions as leaders.

Some questions are better than other questions.

You don’t want to ask a question where your people will have to respond negatively:

  • “Have you completed the project yet?”
  • “Well, no but we’re almost done.”

Instead, ask a question that they can respond positively to:

  • “Have you made progress on the project?”
  • “Well, yes and we’re almost done.”

Perhaps, even better, could be, “Tell me how the project is going.” This is guaranteed not to put them in a bad position because they can talk about what progress they’ve made. That will make them feel good about what they are accomplishing.

So, today’s Leadership Nudge is:

Ask questions that people can respond affirmatively to.
Avoid the “No, but…” questions.

I’m David Marquet. That’s your Leadership Nudge.

Leadership Nudge™ – Reduce Stress to Drive Success (with Jenni Jepsen)

Getting to high performance requires having the right amount of stress to make us feel motivated.

The “Stress Performance Curve” shows what happens in the brain. On the Y-axis we have Prefrontal Cortex Function and on the X-axis, we have stress.

We need to have the right levels of the two neural transmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in order to get to high performance. However, it’s more and more difficult today because we’re under so much stress. All the little stressors add up to big stressors that affect how we think.

What the research shows, is that for most people today, we’re on the far side of the curve; Over-stressed.

It’s not enough that we can’t function but it is enough that we don’t think optimally.

When we’re under pressure, trying to get something done right, and someone comes in and says “What’s going on? Why aren’t you getting this done?”, that pushes us down into more stress where we’re much less likely to get to good solutions.

What we need to do, instead, is support and encourage so that we get back to high performance.

So, the next time you see someone under pressure, instead of being frsutrated or saying, “Why aren’t you getting this done?”, ask instead, “Hey, I can see this is a challenge. How can I help?”

I’m Jenni Jepsen with your Leadership Nudge. Let us know how it goes!

Leadership Nudge™ – Give a Compliment


I’m here with Andy Worshek.

Andy and I implemented Intent-Based Leadership on-board the USS Santa Fe. He’s here with this week’s Leadership Nudge.


Too often, when we give a compliment it’s simply a prelude to bad news. This week, here’s the nudge:

Find someone on your team and give them a compliment;. That’s it – just the compliment.

Let us know how it goes!

Leadership Nudge™ – What If They Stay?

I want to talk about spending time investing in our people, and really helping them to be successful.

One of the things that holds leaders back from this is the thought, “I don’t know when my investment is going to pay off.”

People are a long-term investment. We can’t exactly predict when that is going to happen.

I want you to imagine that you’re going to work with the people that you’re working with all your life.

There’s a phrase out there that goes something like “What if I train my people and they leave?”

Well, what about this?

What if you don’t train them and they stay?

I want you to imagine that you’re working with your people all your life, and see how it changes the way that you think about helping them be better at what they want to be.

Leadership Nudge™ – Embrace Dissent

A lot of bosses, when they have meetings, try to drive for consensus. That’s the wrong idea.

You don’t want to drive consensus. You want to encourage dissent. How can you do that?

We used to pass out black and red cards. You can use dissent cards or a regular deck of cards.

Do this: The next time you have a meeting, plant a dissenter. Ask someone to challenge an assumption or disagree with the group ahead of time. That way you know that you’ll encourage some level of dissent.

Once one person starts to disagree with the group and people see that it’s safe, more people will join in. That’s what you want.

For more information on Dissent Cards –

Leadership Nudge™ – 4 Questions

Here’s a technique to help you listen with the intent to understand.

The next time you need to get someone’s perspective, try asking these 4 questions, and only these 4 questions.

  1. What’s working well?
  2. What do you want to stop doing?
  3. What do you want to start doing?
  4. What’s your one wish?

Then, just listen. You’ll be surprised by how much you learn.

By not having to think about what you’re going to ask, the 4-questions technique nudges you into listening.

I’m Jenni Jepsen with your leadership nudge.

Let us know how it goes!

Leadership Nudge™ – Ditch the List

One practice that tempts us as leaders is to keep lists of tasks for the people who work for us. “To-do Lists”.

This is tempting because we can keep track and we can check up on them, but you’re actually poaching ownership of their jobs. At that point, you own their jobs, not them.

So, here’s your nudge: Throw out the list.

You can keep a list for yourself. The team can keep a list for themselves on a kanban board. You can keep a list for your boss.

As much as possible, try not to keep a list for the people who work for you.

Let them own their jobs.

Leadership Nudge™ – Think Long-Term

This is the Mayan temple of Chichen Itza and this took 300 years to build. Now, imagine starting a project and keeping the same plans, the same design and the same values for 300 years. The Mayans were great with calendars. They had a 5000 year calendar.

So, here’s what we do as leaders: We want to have a long-term perspective. Here’s a trick for that.

Take your calendar, go six months into the future and then imagine it’s that day. Then, think back to today and say, “What do I wish I’d done?”

Leaders have a long-term perspective.

I’m David Marquet, that’s your Leadership Nudge.

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