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How Great Leaders Serve Others: David Marquet (Transcript)

David Marquet at TEDxScottAFB

Full text of leadership expert David Marquet’s talk: How Great Leaders Serve Others at TEDxScottAFB conference.

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David Marquet Founder, Turn This Ship Around

I have a confession to make.

I have control issues. I like to take control. I like to give orders. I like it when people follow them.

And you know, every day as I strive to be a leader in service to others, I struggle against that instinct, because this is what I learned.

To be a leader in service to others, we need to give control, not take control. And we need to create leaders, not followers.

The idea of the leader as someone who takes control stems from these days when what we were interested from people is simply their physical output. All we cared about were their hands or backs.

Take a look at the lady in row Number two, position five, looking at the camera. What is she thinking?

We don’t care. All we want are her hands.

And although sometimes it may feel like you work in a place like this. What we want now from people is thinking, like these coders, their hands aren’t enough.

Or these airmen running this ops center, or the operators of this aircraft.

We know what happens when we give people control. We know what happens.

This happens: People gain agency, they become passionate, involved, engaged, committed, participants. It works in a country. It works in a company. 

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