ESMT Case Study

Turn the ship around! (A)

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-317-0175-1
Jan U. Hagen, L. David Marquet (2017)
Subject(s): Human resources management/organizational behavior
Keyword(s): Empowerment, intend-based leadership, leading teams, participative leadership, directive leadership, command and control leadership, motivation, leader-follower principle

The two-part case study describes two attempts to empower the crews of two nuclear submarines of the US Navy. The case highlights the challenges as well as the weaknesses and strengths of the empowering process. While not against the operational principle of command and control on board a submarine, empowerment is in contrast to the traditional leadership doctrine of the US Navy which relies on the leader-follower principle. The case is based on the personal account of co-author L. David Marquet, Captain, US Navy (Ret.) and former commander of the USS Santa Fe. He authored the bestselling book Turn the Ship Around! that provides a more detailed account of the events described in the A and B cases.

The case may be used in the leadership courses in MBA and executive education programs. Apart from the main objective of highlighting the principle of empowerment, instructors may also explore how to motivate individuals and groups in critical settings. The instructor may ask executives to reflect on their own leadership experiences. On the whole, the case may be used to address the following subjects: (1) empowerment, (2) inquiry, (3) leadership styles, (4) motivation, (5) followership, (6) team management, and (7) situational leadership.

Teaching note Yes
Length 5p
Industry Military
Geographical setting United States of America
Size 2,000,000
Setting period 1989–2009
Related Turn the ship around! (B)
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