Think. Share. Do. – David Marquet
David Marquet - Intent Based Leadership: Create Leaders at Every Level

Think. Share. Do.


I imagine a work place where everyone engages and contributes their full intellectual capacity, a place where people are healthier and happier because they have more control over their work–a place where everyone is a leader.

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Leadership is not for the select few at the top. In highly effective organizations, there are leaders at every level.

Creating Intent-Based Leadership organizations results in a work place where everyone engages and contributes their full intellectual capacity. A place where people are healthier and happier because they have more control over their work – a place where everyone is a leader. Intent-Based Leadership organizations create an environment for people to contribute so that they feel valued. They set clear goals so their people know how to do their jobs. They push control and decision making down the organization so people take responsibility and rise to the occasion. They maintain unity of effort by ensuring the supporting pillars of technical competence and organizational clarity are in place. Learn more at

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4 thoughts on “Think. Share. Do.”

  1. Michael Alexander

    I have already submitted a question, but will raise the substance of it here as well for comment. It seems to me that this style of leadership can only be carried out when you are in a position of authority and power to do so. If you are under someone else’s authority, you are limited as to what you can do because you may not be given that same power to implement what is needed to bring people under you to that level of involvement and ownership. What can arise is a series of frustrations because those over you do not support what you are trying to do, or are marginal at best, or even worse, seek to undermine what it is that you are doing even though you have sought their input, and endorsement. What has resulted in such a situation is a mistrust of the top leadership and their veracity as they demonstrate dishonesty in what they say as to intent, and support. It seems to me if the top leadership that you have to answer to does not buy in to what you are trying to do, you are invariably doomed to failure. There will be those under you that appreciate the impact of the direction you are taking them, but you are spitting into the wind with those in control. I am not aware of anyone approaching this perspective from the view of the implementer—no literature on what to do when you are under incompetent, or dishonest leadership. There ought to be protocols, or pro-active avenues of resolution to some of the scenarios one finds oneself in. Otherwise, one is faced with the prospect of leaving ones employ, which might always be possible for a variety of reasons.

  2. davidmarquet

    Hi Michael-

    Thank you for contacting and sharing your thoughts with us! We can understand how personality based leadership can be a struggle and when the environment wants nothing to do with leader-leader. It is hard to motivate people. It is hard to change people but what can do is create an environment where the people around us feel empowered to do their jobs. We can not take responsibility for the actions of other people, only our own.

    Safety is number one and of course regulations must be followed, but what areas can you begin to be a level two leader even with your peer group? Consistency in this area will start moving the people’s level of engagement around you up. Take a look at our Ladder of Leadership site. It will give you the tools that you need to start asking people what the think instead of telling them what to do.

    Remember, leadership is a muscle and investing in people is a long term investment. You can only take responsibility for yourself. Be a level 2 Leader and the people around you will move up with you! If they do not, then it may not be the right environment for you. David did have a couple of men on the submarine that wanted to be told what to do so he helped them find a another job. There is not a magic pill and you can not force people to think or share ideas, you can only make yourself a safe person they can share ideas with.

    David is currently on the road, but I know he will want to contribute to the conversation and help out however he can. Please give us 3-4 business days to get back to you.

    Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help! Below are a nudges you can reference as you level up!

    Ladder of Leadership Series – Part 1
    Ladder of Leadership Series – Part​ 2​
    Ladder of Leadership Series – Part​ 3​
    Ladder of Leadership Series – Part​ 4​



  3. Skip Kirkwood

    I am the chief of a county emergency medical services agency -160 strong. My career grew in this direction out of the US Navy and the submarine service – I was an HM2(SS) aboard the USS Lafayette (SSBN 616). It is now 30 years after my last strategic deterrent patrol, and I am having some leadership challenges.

    I can relate to the principles laid out in Turn the Ship Around, and the supporting stories bring back the sounds and smells of the submarine – amine and unwashed bodies is an unforgettable combination.

    My workforce works in teams of 2 – spread over a 300 square mile area, with only infrequent contact with peers and supervisors. We gather (half the crew at a time) for professional education once per month, but the necessary content far outstrips available time. There is no pre-deployment or “crew turnover” to run drills and build teams – the work is relentless. It is far different from the ordered life of a peacetime (or cold war) submarine, and the polar opposite of the “togetherness” enjoyed on the boat.

    Do you have any thoughts on how we (I bought both the book and the workbook for my wardroom and chief’s mess!, and we are working through it!) can apply these principles in a geographically and temporally separated workforce?

    Thanks for taking the time to put all this to paper, Captain.

  4. dan

    Your book was a great read and I can say that I am enjoying the practical application of allowing leaders to think for themselves and not be a rank and file follower. Those who lead own, and come for advise rather than instructions. Nudges are good reminders of something that was discovered in the book.

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