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David Marquette’s Leadership Philosophy


In his book Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders,  David Marquette paints a great picture of his leadership style and philosophy. Marquet shares the life history of his leadership and how he succeeded in shifting the leadership style and building strong motivation among all the men in the navy seal team when he was their commander on board the Santa Fe. (Marquet, 2015).

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The book focuses on Marquette’s lifestyle, a leading member in the navy. His leadership style was met with resistance from various industry players.  Other leaders had gone before him, but they also had different leadership ideas. The prime objective in the book is to characterize the different leadership styles that members of the army demonstrated during the period and how Marquet was able to establish a tangible leadership style that encouraged people to work better and do more in their daily duties.  Marquet also discusses the significant variances in leadership styles and giving his viewpoint on how different areas of leadership should also be carried out.

Marquet suggests that leadership should then be defined as “embedding the capacity for greatness in the people and practices of an organization, and decoupling it from the personality of the leader.”  This final paper is broken down into two parts.  The first part is a comparison of Marquet’s leadership style versus some of the varying leadership style I learned from Northouse’s Leadership book.  The second part will focus on my personal leadership philosophy.

Part I

Marquet exhibited a “leader-leader” model of leadership as opposed to a “leader-follower” model. The  “leader-follower” is a  traditional leadership style where orders are issued and intended to be followed. The shortcoming in this model, according to Marquet, is that individuals who have been treated as followers act like followers, with restricted authority expectations and no real motivation to do their best. “Leader-follower” approach may also inhibit unquestioning obedience, resulting in followers feeling that they that do not need to remain engaged in their work: as tasks are dispersed top-down, accountability simply does not occur. This form of leadership results in a negative spiral because when “People who are treated as followers have the expectations of followers and act like followers. As followers, they have limited decision-making authority and little incentive to give the utmost of their intellect, energy, and passion”(Marquet).

When elected as leaders, people who are regarded as followers will regard others as followers. So he rejected this model and developed his own method which consists more of making the participants understand that they belong to the organization as a whole and owning the success.  The plan was to make each of the individuals on the ship to look and act as a leader in their department and permit them to carry out their duties while looking at the sector’s vision.

Marquet is concentrated and decided to fulfill the organization’s objectives through teamwork and the crew members’ motivation to see the goal as their accomplishment that would be relevant to catapulting the rest of the team forward. He was also an advocate for sustainability as he is more interested with the organization’s future progress and the sustainable development of the existing systems in defining the institution’s future actions.  Marquet aided his crew to develop their own decision making and ownership rather than delegate responsibilities. His reports therefore endorsed playing to their strong points and became an efficient, high-performing crew.

The meaning of leadership by the Captain is intertwined across the book, “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.”(Marquet) This definition conveys another leadership model that Northouse defines as Servant Leadership Theory.  This theory is more about the leader being more interested in the achievement of those who serve them rather than their own achievement.  This is considered a “paradox” by Northouse due to the leader and follower dynamics and balance in meeting stakeholders ‘ needs or prioritizing followers ‘ needs. This model, however, is a really popular platform in exercise and is integrated as a desirable model of leadership into many organizations.

The person who is going to begin a leader-leader approach in their organization must start with the principle that brilliance dwells in the people they represent as well as decision-making necessitates that that brilliance needs to be heard loud and clear.   A leader-leader model has the benefit that staff members are always motivated to work to meet their requirements. This is regardless of the form of supervision they have.

However, if a member chooses not to pull their share of the load, the approach has some deficiencies. Mainly due to an over-dependence of a few people which can lower morale considerably which can also cause the entire team to turn against leadership overall.  In the case of being on the Santa Fe, if crew members were only interested in finishing the mission, there was little care for the position of the ship and the consequences of their actions.  Marquet’s approach to this situation was to make sure all the people on the ship were leaders in the areas they worked in.

The problem situation in the text was that most of the captains and the commanders of the navy were never concerned with the issue about the next day or the next people to take place in the ship. This, to me, seemed the opposite of the Path-goal leadership approach. The theory of Path-Goal focuses on leaders ‘ role in stimulating followers to achieve organizational goals, further than just day to day tasks.  As Northouse notes, this theory is complicated and contains structures such as specifying goals and interacting in leadership behaviors; however, the need to examine the attributes of tasks and followers is also identified. Northouse suggests it is not commonly used in leadership professional development because of the sophistication of this theory.

The use of this word “empowerment” is motivating and it has great significance for people, but the reality is that few leaders and organizations really do not know how to share authority with others correctly. To empower followers does not involve the leader taking matters into their own hands and completing tasks themselves or just merely giving people directional commands to complete a specific task. Most often, what happens in organizations is that when empower followers, they create a dependence on the leaders to avoid not having to think for themselves and for not needing to take any real possession of the organization’s mission or goals.  It leaves the desire for greatness to be governed by a few leaders who end up having all the power.  This causes an organization to overlook that their most valuable assets in terms of talent, skills, intelligence comes from their own people.

Empowerment is a concept that Marquet criticizes, as it suggests that people can only ever be “powerful” once a leader has given it. His argument is that all people are inherently powerful, they need not be “empowered.”  I definitely agree with this point of view on this.   Instead, leaders actually need to eliminate social norms and methods aimed at exercising control, leading to people being tuned out and disconnected. When the right behavior patterns of leadership are in place, people will inevitably bring their entire self to their jobs.

The three factors Marquet selects as integral for organizational success are control, competence, and clarity.  Control can be carried out in a multitude of ways, and there are strong values of leadership on a project. Competence guarantees a team has the ability to perform their roles effectively. While clarity ensures they comprehend why they do it and how they make a contribution to the whole of the organization.

My professional life is affected by the leadership approaches discussed in the text. I tend to work better in the operations and perform more when I have the privilege to conduct my tasks with minimal supervision. Too much oversight lowers my job efficiency. I prefer a scenario where I can fulfill my obligations and set my goals. This gives me the ambition to go ahead and beat my goal. The outcome is that the leadership operation profits the entire organization. The lesson I learned from Turn the Ship Around! is that people need the freedom to prove their worth.  People who have been given that type of freedom are susceptible to deliver more than those governed under strict guidelines and procedures. I found the book to be really insightful. Having read the captivating stories that evolve into lessons of enlightening leadership. Leadership, no matter how much we think we have a handle on, is something that requires continual work and development.  In the words of Stephen Covey, “Remember, leadership is a choice, not a position.”

Part II

The word “leadership” holds a lot of different meanings to people.  It can represent both good and bad aspects of a person. In order to be a leader is much more than having a position of leadership or to be able to lead. Anyone can be a leader, not everyone strengthens their leadership skills.  Every person has a different idea of leadership, as well as a different philosophy. My idea of leadership has developed over time, and even more so in this class. It has formed through my parents, my faith, and my career. This course has aided in developing my philosophy of leadership even further than what it was.

Leadership is defined and categorized in so many different ways, especially by each theory in Northouse’ Leadership book.  Each one of us thinks that we already have a good concept of what it means to be a great leader, but the image is not as obvious when it comes to describing the concept. Leadership is more about motivation for some, outcomes and results for someone else, and inspiration for others.

I believe that to be a great leader, there are specific characteristics that one must possess or put into practice.  It requires both innate traits that a person is born with, while other aspects to being a good leader require crafting like any other skill.  This is not something I can define in just one or two sentences.  In order to define how I personally view leadership, it requires a bit more detail.

To lead effectively means to have a vision and to share it with others. Only when a leader can inspire others are they able to share a common goal to direct the entire team’s efforts and dedication.  A leader understands better than anyone else how and when to motivate; it’s one of the their primary purposes as managers of people. Through motivation, the leader streams their coworkers’ energy and professional potential to achieve the ambitions.

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The leader is also at the group’s service, and not the way around. Team members need to be able to feel their leader’s support, they must have access to the resources they need to do their jobs effectively,  have recognition for their efforts, and  should know that a person is paying attention to rectify bad behaviors.  This is what it means for the leader to serve the team and not the other way around.

Another of the fundamental attributes of any successful leader is specifically self-awareness.  This is the capacity that makes leaders put themselves in the place of members of their team, understand their point of view, concerns, and resolve issues.  Leaders know their business ins and outs in order to empathize with clients and their team members: empathy is inspired and connections are established that essentially bring success.

My leadership definition also requires creativity. Effective leaders can create an atmosphere that will inspire all their team members to hone their skills and imagination to add value to the business’s vision. In order to lead successfully, it means respecting other people’s creativeness and learn from the people around them as their ideas will certainly be positive for the leader and team. For their people, a good leader sets the bar high because they want to achieve the goals in order for their team to be successful. It requires them to challenge their followers, but not in a forceful way because The leader must care to listen, to know people’s needs, and then provide them with the resources and time they need to do their jobs properly, and in doing so meet their demands.

To lead and guide their team throughout the entire process, the leader must be at the forefront until the goal is reached. But in addition to being the “flagbearer,” leaders also understand when and how to back away and get their group to take the initiative. In this manner, the team receives both professional and personal development opportunities. Where management concentrates on the tasks, real leadership concentrates on the people.

Effective leadership should be about working as a team to achieve a shared goal. Managing people is one of leaders ‘ most important yet challenging tasks. People are getting better results thanks to the positive attitude, which is essential in good leaders, and the trust in their coworkers. Team-conscious leaders assume responsibility that something goes wrong and reward the group after having done a good job.  The leader is responsible for carrying the risks other people do not want to take. They are confident in making a decision, and if they screw up, the leader must have the fortitude to resolve and take the appropriate course without accusing the team for it. Strong leadership aims to improve constantly. Leaders have all the ability to turn the people in their teams into power players for their organizations.  People, who by their leader’s impact, have enhanced and evolved their skills.

In simple terms, the meaning of leadership has little to do with anybody in the company’s hierarchy or position. Leadership is the approach of those who seek something different, who are dedicated to reaching a goal, and whose belief they manage to convey to others through excitement and positivity in order to accomplish a common purpose.

There have many influences during the course of my life that have motivated and encouraged me to be a leader. As I reflect on my leadership philosophy, it is important to recognize how, not only my character, but also my work ethic and leadership qualities have been shaped by my parents and community. They taught me to be appreciative for work opportunities and to recognize and appreciate differing leadership roles. When I look back, my parents have been a model example of what great, effective leadership should be.  Not because they are my just my parents, but because I have seen their character and leadership skills in action in many different settings such as home, work, and church. While they both have very different leadership styles, they are both very well respected by group of people they have led. The achievement of success remains a major priority in my life, regardless of the job, the tasks, or the leadership responsibilities required.

I have served in youth ministry for over 15 years.  It is a calling on my life that I’m glad I answered.  Teenagers are hard to understand at times and what makes one have a connection with you, does not work for another.  This is an area that my leadership skills are put to the test.  My actions and approaches to them are always subject to be scrutinized and examined, not by parents, but by the youth themselves.  It is imperative that they know I am genuine in every step I take, to every word I speak, because they can see through people better than any adult.

This is where I have incorporated a mix of both Robert Greenleaf’s model of Servant Leadership as well as Authentic Leadership.  Servant leadership is an approach that does not work necessarily well in a corporate setting in my opinion, but when “serving” in a church, it fits.  I lead to help others, not for any benefit to myself, but because a lot of young people are hurting and come from broken homes.  They need someone that offers them support, guidance, and encouragement.  It’s my duty to help, not because I get paid (because I do not),  I want to help these students in my group, and it makes me feel good to know that I make a difference in the life of somebody.

My career has been one that may not seem all too exciting to some but it has definitely shaped me in many way.  I mentioned authentic leadership when serving in youth ministry, but this also applies to my leadership approach in the workforce.  Authentic leadership theorists argue that over time leaders can develop authentic values and behaviors, as well as essential skills and attitudes. Northouse observed that the moral element of leadership is lacking in understanding.  I spoke on this area during Module 3, because Authentic leadership associates very well to introverts.  It has only been in the past few years that I have come to understand myself and how my introverted ways can be beneficial to myself and others.

Part of being authentic is to be self-aware. Introverts tend to be more insightful and contemplative, making introverts more inwardly aware of an issue and capable of defining a clear solution.   While I held a manager’s position for over two years at Applied Industrial Technologies, it was during some my inner reflection that I realized that I was not to a level of being an effective leader.  My focus was on doing the tasks and getting the job done, but did not have the understanding or know-how to be the effective leader I describe in detail early.

There have been many things that have shaped my philosophy of leadership. Sometimes it is just a matter of understanding your core values, ethics, and beliefs.  All of which I feel go hand in hand.  The ethical leader acknowledges that to create an ethical organizational atmosphere, meaningful relationships based on respect, openness, and trust are crucial. The ethical leadership that I’ve dealt with always had fundamental values that were integrity, justice, honesty, accountability, fairness, and empathy.

“The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionably integrity”, this is a valuable statement made by the 34th President of United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Integrity should be the roots of a leader. No real success is possible without integrity, regardless as to whether it is on a sports field, the armed forces, or in the workplace. Honesty and integrity are two key elements that make for a true leader.  Leaders excel if they adhere to their core values and beliefs and this will not be possible without ethics.

A person must be confident enough to ensure that others follow their commands to be an effective leader.  Undoubtedly a leader’s hardest job is to convince another to follow. This can only be plausible if leading by example, inspiring others to in turn follow suit.  Followers look up to leaders to see how they are reacting to situations, especially during a crises.  They’ll follow when they witness leaders manage those situations and Staying calm under pressure in order to keep up the motivation.

Teams & work groups look up to their managers & directors to lead by example.  If a manager wants their workforce to give them their all, they will have to be fervent about it as well and getting our hands dirty.  It is not always about the end result but about how the team works together and gives it their best shot.  A leader gains subordinates ‘ respect and gives team members new energy, which motivates them work better. If they feel a leader is not totally committed or lacking passion, then motivating followers to achieve the goal will be an enormous challenge for the leader.  This has always been something I expect in a leader.  My respect and admiration goes a long way when I see my boss or pastor, pulling up their sleeves and working among their crew or congregation.  Nothing shows a lack of caring than just standing by watching work being done.  This is so ingrained in me that I make sure to pull my load, plus some whenever possible.


To become a good leader, one is expected to have all these qualities, values, and characteristics.  This is where I felt I lacked to becoming a good leader.  Where can I make my imprint in the leadership world? This is where commitment, passion, empathy, honesty, and integrity of leaders comes into play.  Effective leadership’s purpose is to direct with a genuine heart ; motivate supporters to find and harmonize their individual purpose and values within a group.  When communication is open and genuine, each of these outcomes is possible. When leadership embodies these qualities and characteristics, the outcome of such influence is an organization’s success and members ‘ satisfaction.  As stated earlier, everyone has a different definition of leadership differently.  It was hard for me to summarize into one sentence but when writing this final paper, I found a quote by John C Maxwell that did it perfectly,  “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Regardless of how to define a leader, the people that embody effective leadership to each of us, proves that differences can be between success and failure.  An central theme throughout this semester is that leadership is complicated and continues to expand with changing environments and external dynamics. Comprehending the progression of the theories and viewpoints of multiple leadership approaches is beneficial for audiences interested in leadership and those seeking to cultivate their comprehension of practice and theory of leadership.


  • Marquet, L. D. (2015). Turn the Ship Around! : A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders. London: Portfolio Penguin.
  • Northouse, P.G. (2019). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Eighth Edition. Los Angeles: Sage Publications

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