Turn the Ship Around! - Summary and Key Ideas

Turn the Ship Around! is a compelling narrative from Captain Marquet about the journey and transformation of the USS Santa Fe from the worst-performing submarine in its fleet to the best. The book charts the course of the Santa Fe’s exceptional turnaround, including what Captain Marquet did to achieve this remarkable transformation in leadership from a command-and-control model to a leader-leader model.

This book is ideal for leaders, managers, and organizational behavior and leadership enthusiasts in any industry, specifically those interested in learning novel approaches to leadership that foster engagement, creativity, and mandates a paradigm shift from the existing hierarchical model. It is also applicable for individuals wanting to develop a questioning attitude over blind obedience for clarity and those interested in realizing the effects of a 'leader-leader' model in practice.

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Turn the Ship Around!

Key ideas


The leader-leader model empowers all to solve humanity's greatest challenges.


The captain revitalized the submarine crew by flipping traditional leadership and emphasizing excellence over error-avoidance.

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Empowering leadership and shared responsibility invigorated a struggling submarine crew.

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Commander transforms micromanagement to empowerment, fostering innovative, self-determined, and safety-conscious submarine crew.

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Empowerment requires competence, cultivated through mindset shifts, training, and deliberate action.

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Empowering crew members and encouraging initiative drastically improves team performance and solves leadership failures.

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The book underscores empowerment, clarity, and alignment as key leadership principles.

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Summary & Review

Final Summary: "Turn the Ship Around!" is a transformative book by Captain David Marquet detailing the leadership journey and paradigm shift he made while commanding the USS Santa Fe. Inspired by ideals of empowerment, Marquet transformed the traditional leader-follower structure into a leader-leader model. This approach involves divesting control whilst maintaining responsibility, and nurtures a culture of technical competence and organizational clarity. Marquet's changes led to an increase in morale, effectiveness, and retention rates. Prominent figures such as Stephen R. Covey commend Marquet's leadership model, seeing it as a roadmap for collaborative and initiative-driven success.

L. David Marquet

L. David Marquet, a U.S. Navy Captain, wanted to empower his crew as far as he possibly could within the Navy’s confines. He aimed to create an environment where everyone viewed themselves as a vitally important link in the chain of command.

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