Thursday, February 13, 2014

Leadership Turn the Ship Around Review

Often, books on leadership and business create an ‘easy to follow’ roadmap for leadership success (e.g., the 10 steps to success), and suggest the process is simple if you follow their steps.  Yet, maybe leadership isn’t as easy as these books lead us to believe.  With this is mind, critique at least one aspect of David Marquet’s approach to leadership as discussed in his boot, Turn the Ship Around.  Is there one or more aspects in his approach that you find troubling, have doubt, or that you disagree with?  Explain.  Even if you don’t disagree with anything, play the devil’s advocate in identifying one aspect to critique.  Draw on any relevant knowledge from your course readings, experience, personal examples, etc. to reinforce your argument. 

David Marquet believes that a successful organization must move from the typical “leader-follower” style to the “leader-leader” way of managing people. This creates a fundamental paradigm shift in leaders need to release control of command to his/her subordinates. This approach cannot be applied in very organization because of the following limitations.
Control: To bring empowerment David releases control to individual employees but this also requires more trust and one to one relationship with the employees. David talks about how the crew members self-report when they made noises before it’s reported by sonar, this shows that it also requires high conscientious personality in the crew members. This cannot be replicated in every organization because of the unique personality and type of people David Marquet was dealing with .Navy officers score high on the big five personality measures of conscientious, openness, extraversion, Neuroticism, agreeableness and other behavioral competencies. They do what is right for the organization and for the country. In reality companies will have a mix of employees selected based on their technical skills so they lack/score low on these behavioral competencies which makes it difficult to implement David’s way of empowering people.
Autonomous team: David Marquet’s team was autonomous and he got good support from his top management. His team was isolated and he had full power and control in bringing his “leader-leader” changes. This is not possible in today’s teams which are more centralized and decisions at every level had to be communicated not just to your team but also to other external members within the organization. So there will be external opposition from outside teams and makes it difficult to bring leader-leader way of leadership.
Cultural differences and personality measures differ across countries, David’s way of empowering and bringing the leader-leader style of leadership is very difficult to implement in countries like India and china [exhibit 1]. According to hofstede’s research on the 5-D model United States rank high in terms of Individualism, uncertainty Avoidance [Appendix 1] which are some of the key traits required to implement David’s leader-leader model.
Empowerment Leadership Challenges on virtual teams: Distance Matters”, David by walking around and showing curiosity he was bringing more of Management by walking (MBW) style of leadership which cannot be done if the team members are virtual and located at distant. It’s difficult to implement MBW especially when you have your organization made up of telecommuters and people working flexible hours. So participation of these employees will be less than other employees.
Competence: David insists taking deliberate action at every step of your work. If followers are virtually located in distant and the leader works remotely then it’s difficult for them to gain control by embracing inspectors, generating solutions, communicating the intent.
David Marquet’s leadership is all about trusting, empowering, and getting out of the way of your employees to make improvements. But to accomplish this and move from the traditional leader-follower model to leader-leader model there is cost for the re-organization and there is a risk of failure if it doesn’t align with your company’s culture, personality of your employees. In a services industry like where I come from we use agile methodologies and it runs on project basis where you will not work under one manager for more than 6 months or 1 year. You are pulled into different projects based on your skills and most of them are short term contract projects. To follow David Marquet’s philosophy it works better on long run projects. It is also necessary that you work under the same team and organization for a reasonable amount of time to bring this change and see these changes. Unlike many other leadership theories, this leader-leader approach does not have a strong body of research findings to justify and support the underpinnings on which it stands so there might be unseen hidden risks with this approach.

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