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3 Keys to "Turn Your Ship Around!"

Picture this! There is a good leader who is facing a challenge. Nothing troubles him more than watching the numbers drop. He arrives home after another tough day, scratching his head and asks “what the heck is going on?!?”  He crawls into bed to face a fitful night of sleep. He tosses and turns, trying to figure out what to do next. Upon awakening, he goes back into work with the hope that something changes, that momentum returns and the results improve.

All great leaders have had moments when they needed to “turn the proverbial ship around.”  Even “Brave Leaders” have these moments.  There is good news in our story! There is a road map to turning the ship around. One of my favorite all-time leadership books is in fact titled “Turn the Ship Around” by L. David Marquet.

In this book, Mr. Marquet describes the experience of taking the worst submarine in the U.S. Navy and turning it into the best performing submarine in the entire fleet. We can learn from his experience. As Brave Leaders, we can certainly use one of these simple techniques to improve or turn our own business around.

1. Instead of Leader / Follower ….. LEADER / LEADER

Most organizations run on a “Leader / Follower” structure. In David’s book he talks about developing a “Leader / Leader” model instead. This structure requires each individual to think like a leader. Each person can be encouraged to “lead” from their own position in the company.

  • Do your people simply follow rules because “they’ve been told to do it?”
  • Do you encourage your people to think proactively?
  • Do your people know your leadership decision making process?
  • Do your people know how to help make leadership decisions?

2. Feedback - “The breakfast of champions”

Brave Leaders are not afraid of feedback from their team.  Here are some questions to ask your team that will begin to “turn the ship around.”  Ask your team:

  • What’s keeping you from doing your job better?
  • What are our biggest challenges?
  • What are your biggest frustrations about how our business is currently being run?
  • What is the best thing I can do for you?

3. Strive for excellence, instead of avoiding mistakes

Many organizations try desperately to avoid mistakes. Great leaders understand that excellence can be achieved by thinking and acting “outside the box.”

When we encourage our people to push the envelope on what has been done or achieved, there is a likelihood that they will stumble, fall and make some mistakes. 

Brave Leaders tie daily activities to broad goals and objectives.  Brave Leaders understand that mistakes are helpful in learning what proper procedures should be implemented. Trying to avoid mistakes at all costs is debilitating.

  • Are you trying to achieve excellence or just avoiding mistakes?
  • Has your organization become action-averse to avoid errors?
  • Do you spend more time discussing errors than celebrating success?
  • How do you minimize errors but make your focus success?

Strive to run a “leader / leader” organization. Hold your people accountable for thinking, not just following. Be willing to hear feedback.  Have your team bring you solutions, not just problems. These steps will help you “turn the ship around,” enjoy more success and sleep one-heck-of-a-lot better!

Here’s to your Brave Leadership,

John

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