Case studies: the power of everyday leadership

Unlocking staff potential by making them everyday leaders, not followers

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A submarineImagine you're a US Navy commander, head of the nuclear submarine with the fleet's worst crew. What now?

Captain David Marquet did something unexpected. He gave more control to his team - making them leaders, not followers. And by letting them take responsibility, he built the best-performing crew, with the Navy's highest retention and operational standings.

This is everyday leadership.

Granted, the US Navy may seem distant from your own business, but the lesson from Captain Marquet's story is universal. It's about creating leaders at all levels, pushing decision-making down the organisation and encouraging employees to be invested in the success of the business.

The former US Navy captain is now a leadership consultant whose book Turn That Ship Around! shows how you can introduce intent-based leadership in your organisation.

“Imagine a workplace where everyone engages and contributes their full intellectual capacity. A place where people are healthier and happier because they have more control over their work – a place where everyone is leader.”
Captain David Marquet

The three Cs of everyday leadership

Captain Marquet breaks down the successful implementation of everyday leadership to the 3 Cs, which are:

Competence

A successful team requires competent, skilled people - and that includes the manager. It sounds obvious, right? However, competence is often one of the things most taken for granted, and if you don't fully understand your team members' skill sets, mistakes will inevitably creep into their work.

Clarity

Team members can only perform in line with what's been asked of them. Therefore, an effective manager must make it clear exactly what is expected of staff and what the short and long-term goals are.

Control

Competence and clarity are the pillars on which control sits. If your team member is both competent in the role and clear about the goal, you can be confident in granting them control over their actions at work. Doesn’t this sound a lot better than micro-managing every little detail about your business operations?

Captain Marquet talks about the theory

A case study closer to home

Embracing everyday leadership has also benefited Glasgow-based digital agency NS Design Ltd. Founder and manager Gary Ennis explained why giving his team control is not an issue.

He said: “People are hired because of their skills, or on the potential of their skills, and so the best way for them to develop is not through micro-management, but by giving them the freedom to grow their skills, capabilities and confidence. They take responsibility for their own workloads. Of course, I’m here when they need me.

“The pace of change is so fast that any other leadership style means you’re lagging behind. If the staff need to ask for permission or aren’t allowed to innovate and take risks, then you’ve missed the boat. We have a close-knit team, which understands the values of the company and what we're about.”

Encouraging a nation of leaders

And here at Skills Development Scotland, which runs this website, we’re trying to practise what we preach.

Scotland’s national skills agency has made everyday leadership a major part of how they plan to deliver their 2020 vision.

SDS’s director of human resources Carolyn Anderson explains: “At SDS we are committed to harnessing the capability of all of our colleagues and we firmly believe that leadership rests with each and every one of us, not just in a select few.”

What’s next?

Find out more about Leadership Essentials from Scottish Enterprise.

To find out what Leadership Essentials could do for your management team or to apply for a place phone 0845 607 8787 or register on the Scottish Enterprise website.