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Summary

Your words matter more than you think

Most of us use the language we inherited from a time when workers worked with their hands and managers worked with their heads. Today, your people do much more than simply follow orders. They contribute to performance and solve problems, and it's time we updated our language to reflect that. 

In Leadership Is Language, former US Navy captain L. David Marquet offers a radical playbook to empower your people and put your team on a path to continuous improvement. The framework will help you achieve the right balance between deliberation and action, and take bold risks without endangering your mission. Among other things, you'll learn:

  • How to avoid the seven common sins of questioning, from binary questions (should we do A or B?) to self-affirming questions (B is the better option, right?)
  • Why you should vote first, then discuss, when deciding on a plan with your team, rather than voting after discussion
  • Why it's better to give your people information instead of instructions

As a submarine captain, Marquet used his counterintuitive model of leadership to turn the worst-performing submarine crew into the best-performing one in the fleet, a story he recounted in his bestselling book Turn the Ship Around! Now, in Leadership Is Language, he draws on a wide range of examples, from the 2017 Oscars Best Picture mishap to the tragic sinking of the SS El Faro, to show you exactly how the words you use (and don't use) impact how your people contribute.

©2020 L. David Marquet (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Full of compelling advice on how to lead more effectively by choosing your words more wisely." (Adam Grant, author of Originals and Give and Take)

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A modern masterpiece

Prior to reading this, I had one book I'd recommend above all others in the field of technology management, now I have to start recommending two!
I've always felt aware of how important what you say is in terms of getting the most out of people. This book absolutely nails it for our modern era. Excellent.

4 people found this helpful

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A must read not just for people in leadership roles

This is one of the best books I've listened to. The fact that the author is also the narrator makes the communication very effective and quite entertaining.
I thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from the book as it helped me reflect upon my actions and decisions as a leader and exposed the areas of improvement, which otherwise I had considered to be my strengths. To some extent, it was like a repository of every mistake I made as a leader under target pressures and getting a personalised lecture on how to have handled the situation/decision making differently. It was an opportunity to introspect and relearn some of key people and team skills.
I have recommended this book to my team, irrespective of what level there're at. In my opinion, it is a must read/listen for anyone in leadership role.
Most importantly, it's helped me be a servant leader, again.

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detailed - clear - engaging -interesting educating

loved to learn about the difference between blue and red work and how to fine tune the delicate balance between the two. Found extremely helpful thinking about the difference between intentions and behaviours. And empowering focusing on controlling the clock instead of obaying the clock! ultimately I admire how the author structured the book. Highly valuable read

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Tremendous

Jumped straight into my top ten leadership books of
all time. Thoughtful content and enthusiastic narration. Top class.

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Great book, easy listen

Being new to all this I have tried several books on leadership and management , This is by far my favourite, lots of usefull tools and strategies.

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An inspiring and refreshing approach to leadership

Practical advice and good narration by the author makes this leadership model come alive.

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  • LC
  • 08-09-20

Excellent leadership learning resource

Really useful and actionable leadership techniques around language and communication, along with plenty of nice examples of the right and wrong way, and their consequences.
Worth re-reading periodically.

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Excellent

Three listens later this book just gets better and better. Each time I take something new away to practice

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Fantastic book, absolutely brilliant - very deep

Fantastic book, absolutely brilliant - very deep and insightful. So many good tips, very practical

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Great content, read with infectious enthusiasm

great content, read with infectious enthusiasm and verve by the author.
valuable lessons that cab be applied by anyone in a leadership role at any level.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-11-21

Excellent book

I always enjoy books read by the author and this was no exception. Gave me a lot to think about and used several varied and unique examples to illustrate the points to be made.