In 1981, David graduated top of his class from the U.S. Naval Academy—an institute renowned for developing “leaders to serve the nation.” Thereafter, he joined the submarine force.
Along his journey, one thing bothered him: the traditional leader-follower model. Used by the Navy and most companies around the world, the goal of leader-follower is to influence people to comply, not think. David experienced first-hand how this practice makes people feel marginalized. He knew in his gut that there had to be a better way.
He’d soon discover that to prove his theory he’d have to break some rules.
As engineer officer aboard the USS Will Rogers (SSBN-659), a nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, David tried empowering his team. He provided broad guidance, giving the team intent rather than orders. It was … a disaster. His team made poor decisions that led to errors. He had to stop and revert to the traditional leader-follower method.