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4 Principles of the Leader-Leader Method

  • Publish Date: Posted over 6 years ago
  • Author: Taylor Varco

Kevin Ruda, Our Senior Business Development Manager, shared his thoughts on taking on a Leader-Leader method in the workplace:

Any organization wants each one of their employees to be engaged and be a leader to find solutions to maximize productivity and organizational excellence.  Traditional leadership models say that organizations need central, strong leadership people to take command and control over an organization to then direct and dictate actions, but data shows most people in these roles struggle with the best ways to motivate their employees to maximize their production.  This contributes to an overall lag in production time, efficiency, and actually hitting the goal-end results!  What is the best way to have each person make an impact?

The Leader-Leader model empowers each member of an organization to take ownership of their role and lead from the front.

In David Marquet’s book, Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders, he outlines the Leader-Leader model to help push power and responsibility as low on the organizational structure and hierarchy as possible.  This allows for each person in the organization to take control over their responsibilities and metrics, refocusing their efforts to complete work that will benefit the end goal and play to each person’s strengths.  David was able to enforce this change as Captain of the Nuclear Submarine on the USS Santa Fe, taking it from worst in the nuclear submarine fleet to first! To enact this change, David outlines four primary objectives that can be applied to any organization.


It is important for the leader to give control to each one of its employees.  This can be a hard initial first step, as many leaders are burdened with project deadlines and their ultimate goals for the company.  Giving control, and allowing employees to develop their own metrics to hit a goal, takes the pressure off the leader and puts accountability on each employee. This gives them the power to hit their own goals that they defined and feel a stronger sense of accomplishment for the greater good.


Give your employees the tools they need to be competent in their role. You can start by evaluating all the tools you have as an organization that give employees a chance to succeed.  Look through your current training, technology assets, and personal effects your organization has to arm each employee. Ensuring you’re providing the best tools will provide a higher success rate for each employee as a leader in their scope of work.


Repeat your message and goals over and over.  The repetition will enforce certain behaviors that need to drive each employee within your organization to hit their goals.  From the top down, the leadership team must be open and transparent with their actions and what each level needs to do to succeed. Make it a point to note that each member is working towards the same ultimate goal, and that each and everyone’s actions is equally as important to reach it.


From the outset, changing to a Leader-Leader Model will take courage from every member of the team.  The trust transfer starts from the moment of engaging with each employee and providing these necessary tools. There will be hiccups and iterations on each task and project along the way. As leaders in an organization, it is your responsibility to trust the process, move with those changes, but continue to let each employee direct their own success!

The Leader-Leader model follows these four principles to create the most productive workforce. It produces higher quality of work, and ultimately, better retention of an organization’s talent base to groom into the next leaders.  Through these activities, your workforce will be more empowered to act, produce, and exceed their target goals.