In some ways it was quite a revelation to watch David Marquet’s TED Talk . For most of my career I felt that it was important to encourage my staff to take more responsibility with the associated authority. So, in Marquet’s words as a leader I was willing to ‘divest control and distribute it to’ my staff.
That was the good news. The problem was that it didn’t usually work. Invariably I would have to take back the control I had delegated because it wasn’t getting handled well. To make matters worse, in most cases by taking it back I managed to disempower and frustrate those involved.
So, to read about Marquet’s similar experiences and to understand how he got past this hurdle was enlightening. What I had missed (among many other things!) was that it is essential that the staff had the ‘clarity’ and ‘competency’ to handle the control I was giving them. (These are explained in Marquet’s book, ‘Turn Your Ship Around!’.)
It seems pretty obvious in retrospect but in the corporate cultures I had experienced this just wasn’t necessary. As Marquet says, ‘Up till recently, leadership has been about getting people to do things….. through command, compulsion, and compliance.’ The assumption is that ‘there are leaders and there are followers……’ Of course if you are a follower you do not need to make decisions.
Marquet shows that leadership doesn’t need to be this way.