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Marc Koehler      

Author of "Leading with Purpose: How to Engage, Empower & Encourage Your People to Reach Their Full Potential" & Former Navy Nuclear Submarine Officer and Elite Leadership Expert, Leading in Disruptive Environments and Veteran

Marc Koehler, a former U.S. Navy Nuclear Submarine Officer and turnaround CEO, is a rare blend of expertise, engagement, and 35 years of battle-tested, proven experience in Elite Leadership, evangelizing that what the world needs is not more management systems – it needs more leadership.

After leaving the Navy, Koehler worked for Honeywell where he learned how to read a profit and loss statement, put together comprehensive strategic plans, and became a master black belt in Lean Six Sigma. When his daughters were 6, 4, and 2, he could either climb the corporate ladder or be at every back-to-school night, choir performance, and soccer practice. He chose the latter and started a turnaround consulting firm. He developed a reputation as someone who could tackle the worst business situations after leading many companies back to profitability from being on the precipice of going under.

During this time, Koehler witnessed the power of the human spirit and realized that a new approach to leadership is needed – not more management systems. He founded Lead With Purpose, a leadership development and research firm, where he took the over $1M in leadership training the Navy poured into him, in combination with his civilian turnaround experience, and distilled it into simple concepts and skills to create leaders at every level of an organization. Over 51,000 leaders have been developed through Lead With Purpose’s SHRM-accredited organizational leadership consulting, coaching, courses, and simple systems.

Koehler’s experience in both the nuclear submariner service, including receiving two Battle E’s over the course of his career, as well as the business world has led him to become one of the foremost experts on Elite Leadership – a needed, relevant, and achievable approach to leadership for this new, disruptive world.

Koehler is a keynote speaker addressing audiences of up to 50,000, the best-selling author of Leading With Purpose, and the host of the Surfacing Leaders podcast where he tells the stories of leaders in unlikely places and the human spirit that drives us all.

Residing in Oceanside, California, Koehler is married to his wife Heidi of 28 years and Dad to their three grown daughters, Anja, Liesel, and Sophie.

Speech Topics

Course Correct to Success: Cultivating Agility within Your Leadership Team

Keynote Description:

Picture this: a workforce fully connected to the mission, brimming with engagement, and eager to seize responsibility and make crucial decisions. This ideal scenario hinges on enabling every individual, irrespective of rank, to step up and take well-informed shots. In today's landscape, the triumph belongs to the teams that consistently make the smartest decisions at breakneck speed. Marc Koehler advocates for leadership where every team member is empowered to do just that—nurturing a culture that thrives on agility. In the relentless and ever-shifting landscape of today's business world, the capacity to navigate uncertainty, make well-informed choices and pivot with precision stands as the cornerstone of triumphant leadership. Join Marc for a journey through the intricacies of rapid decision-making in Course Correct to Success: Cultivating Agility within Your Leadership Team. Drawing upon his 35 years of hands-on expertise, he unveils a transformative blueprint that empowers leaders across all tiers to steer their teams toward unparalleled victory.

Keynote Result:

Equip your leadership team with the tools and confidence to cultivate agility and excel in decision-making, fostering a culture of adaptability and success within your organization.

Keynote Takeaways:

  • Agile Decision-Making Empowers Success: In today's dynamic business landscape, agility and fast decision-making are paramount for success. Leaders who can navigate ambiguity, make informed choices, and pivot swiftly are best equipped to guide their teams toward victory.

  • Decentralized Decision-Making Amplifies Impact: Contrasting the results of pushing decision-making down the organizational hierarchy, the audience will understand that when decision authority is distributed, teams make more, smart decisions, paving the way for increased adaptability, responsiveness, and overall success.

  • Overcoming Decision Fatigue and Choice Overload: Modern leadership wrestles with the challenges of decision fatigue and choice overload, as we're bombarded with data and complex choices. Embracing the 40-70 principle encourages a shift in mindset, allowing leaders and teams to make informed decisions even when faced with uncertainty.

  • Leveraging Technology for Agility: Just as submarines use technology to decipher a cacophony of sounds, modern leaders can leverage technology to align teams, communicate objectives, and foster a culture of shared purpose. Simple Systems like Fast Attack serve as invaluable tools for keeping everyone connected, informed, and focused on their goals.

  • Embracing Ambiguity and Taking the Shot: By accepting that initial decisions are not final and adopting a continuous course correction approach, organizations can foster a culture of bold decision-making, encouraging each team member to 'take the shot' and contribute to the organization's success.

Lead With Purpose: The 3-Step Process to Communicating and Connecting Your Employees to Your Company’s Inspiring Story and Mission

Keynote Description:

Research is showing us that 95% of employees don’t how what they do connects to making a difference in the world, eroding employee engagement, productivity, and retention. In Marc Koehler’s keynote Lead With Purpose, he presents The 3-Step Process to Communicating and Connecting Employees to Your Company’s Inspiring Story. He shares his transition from the U.S. Navy to the corporate world, where he learned the intricacies of big business tools and strategies. However, his early experiences as an interim CEO revealed a startling truth: despite having complex management systems, most employees lacked a genuine connection to their company's mission and purpose. This realization ignited Marc's pursuit of a new approach that would create engaged, empowered, and encouraged teams: an E3 Culture powered by purpose. By using images, code words, and a clear narrative derived from the Silent Service, leaders can empower their teams to understand not only their individual roles but also their collective impact on the company's long-term success. Consider this the new Start With Why for this generation.

Keynote Result:

Implement a brand purpose for today’s disruptive environment to boost your team’s productivity and performance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the Importance of Purpose: The audience will comprehend the critical role of purpose-driven leadership in today's disruptive environment, recognizing how it goes beyond traditional management systems to create engaged, motivated, and high-performing teams.

  • Exploring the Fast Attack Framework: Attendees will gain an in-depth understanding of the Fast Attack framework. They will grasp how each step contributes to fostering employee engagement and alignment.

  • Simplifying Complex Concepts: the audience will learn effective strategies to distill complex organizational concepts into simple, memorable formats. Through real-world examples and practical tips, they will discover how to communicate the company's mission, values, and vision in ways that resonate with every team member.

  • Measuring and Addressing Disengagement: Attendees will acquire the skills to identify signs of employee disengagement, and understand its implications for productivity and performance. They will learn how to calculate the financial impact of disengagement and develop strategies to mitigate it.

  • Applying Purpose-Driven Leadership: the audience will be equipped with actionable steps to implement purpose-driven leadership within their own organizations. By examining case studies and success stories, they will leave with practical insights on leveraging the Fast Attack framework to enhance communication, build a stronger team culture, and drive tangible results.

The Elite Leader: The Principles to Develop You and Your Team to the Highest Level of Leadership

Keynote Description:

A transformative journey into the heart of leadership excellence, Marc Koehler’s The Elite Leader keynote offers a roadmap for personal and organizational transformation, setting you and your team on the path to the Highest Level of Leadership. Marc guides the audience through the evolution of Elite Leadership, from its origins in the military to its modern-day significance in the workplace. Marc unveils why Elite Leadership was imperative for military survival and why the ever-changing work environment now demands its application. You'll gain insights into transforming your leadership mindset and developing the skills needed to thrive amidst disruptions. Marc's keynote empowers you to champion a culture of shared leadership, where every team member becomes an Elite Leader, prepared to tackle challenges head-on. Equip yourself with actionable strategies to instill readiness, cultivate situational awareness, and foster critical thinking within your organization. Marc's engaging narrative draws from real-world experiences and offers practical tools to effect meaningful cultural change.

Keynote Results:

Transform your mindset to view every team member as a leader.

Key Takeaways:

  • Historical Roots of Elite Leadership: Understand the origins of Elite Leadership in the military and uncover the compelling reasons behind its adoption for centuries, revealing its relevance in modern workplaces.

  • Transitioning to Modern Demands: Explore the parallels between historical military necessity and the current forces pushing organizations to embrace Elite Leadership as a response to dynamic market shifts.

  • Transforming Your Leadership Mindset: Learn the essential steps to reframe your approach to leadership, transcending traditional managerial roles and embracing the mindset of an Elite Leader.

  • Cultivating Shared Leadership: Discover the tools and strategies to create a culture where each team member is recognized as a leader, fostering a collaborative environment primed for success.

  • Empowering Organizational Readiness: Gain actionable insights to instill situational awareness, critical thinking, and readiness within your team, enabling them to navigate disruptions with agility and confidence.

Battle E: The Art of Personal and Collective Readiness at your Organization

Keynote Description:

In the military, readiness is not just a goal; it's a way of life. It's about being fully prepared for the mission at hand, anticipating the unexpected, and thriving amidst disruptions. Marc Koehler brings to light the powerful concept of 'Battle E,' a prestigious award presented to select U.S. Navy ships, submarines, and units that exhibit unparalleled readiness in the keynote Battle E: The Art of Personal and Collective Readiness. Marc himself received two 'Battle E' awards during his distinguished submariner career, a testament to his firsthand experience in achieving and sustaining peak readiness and performance both personally and collectively. Unlock the military's innovative expertise-driven matrixed teams approach, where individuals with specialized skills step up in their areas of mastery. Battle E is your guide to transition from a hierarchical organization to a matrixed organization that will empower your teams and propel your company to readiness at every level for this new, disruptive world.

Keynote Result:

Switch from a hierarchical organization to a matrixed organization where employees are empowered and meet high expectations.

Key Takeaways:

  • Operational Readiness Mindset: Gain insights from the military's approach to constant preparedness. Understand the significance of fostering a culture where every individual, team, and department is primed for unforeseen challenges, enabling your organization to thrive amidst disruptions.

  • Empowering Transformation: Discover how to transition from traditional hierarchical structures to matrixed organizations where employees are empowered and meet high expectations. Learn the art of inspiring stories aligned with values that fuel engagement and ownership at all levels.

  • Expertise-Driven Matrixed Teams: Learn to seamlessly form and un-form matrixed teams based on individual expertise. Explore how the military's strategy of having the right person take point in their area of expertise leads to effective collaboration and efficient problem-solving across diverse situations.

  • Cultivating Learning Learning-At-Speed: Uncover the military's approach to developing leaders who embody continuous growth and learning-at-speed. Learn to nurture a learning-focused culture that equips individuals to adapt, innovate, and step up whenever the mission calls.

  • Question-Centric Leadership: Discover the power of cultivating a questioning culture. Explore how the military's emphasis on asking impactful questions fuels critical thinking, knowledge sharing, and preparedness, fostering a workforce ready to tackle any challenge head-on.

Fast Attack Leadership: The 5 Step Framework US Nuclear Submarine Officers Use To Create World-Class Teams

Keynote Description:

In the high-stakes world of submarine warfare, leadership is not a luxury; it's a matter of life and death. Imagine standing on a nuclear submarine's control deck, making split-second decisions that impact the lives of 110 crew members and the fate of a $1 billion vessel. Marc Koehler unveils the extraordinary parallels between submarine command and effective business leadership he found as both a U.S. Nuclear Submarine officer and a turnaround CEO. As the world grapples with unprecedented challenges, Marc's insights illuminate the core issues plaguing modern leadership and presents the powerful solution — Fast Attack Leadership: The 5-Step Framework US Nuclear Submarine Officers Use To Create World-Class Teams. Discover how this proven methodology can revolutionize your leadership approach and drive your teams towards 9x productivity and 3x higher retention. Cutting-edge leadership data and case studies from Marc’s leadership development and research firm Lead With Purpose, combined with the simple Fast Attack framework will empower you to retool, upskill, and rejuvenate your leadership approach and team. As the next wave of change looms, you'll be equipped with the tools to steer through challenges with confidence and emerge stronger than ever before.

Keynote Result:

Drive results and adapt with a high-performance culture and a world-class employee experience to attract and retain the best people. Lean in confidently to the tremendous opportunities and challenges ahead, no matter a team member’s official title.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Power of the 5-Step Framework: Attendees will gain a comprehensive understanding of the 5-Step Framework that US Nuclear Submarine Officers employ to create world-class teams. This actionable blueprint will equip them with the tools to lead confidently in the face of uncertainty and disruption.

  • Agility in Adversity: Marc's unique background as a former submarine captain and Turnaround CEO will highlight the parallels between military command and corporate leadership. The audience will learn how to foster agility and adaptability within their teams, enabling them to thrive amidst turbulence.

  • Creating a High-Performance Culture: Through real-world examples and insights, attendees will discover how Fast Attack Leadership cultivates a high-performance culture. They'll learn to align their teams, boost productivity, and drive results even in the most challenging circumstances.

  • Transformative Impact: The keynote will showcase the tangible results that Fast Attack Leadership can achieve. Attendees will understand how the framework can enhance team alignment by up to nine times and boost productivity by four times, translating into real-world success stories.

  • Actionable Strategies for the Future: Armed with the 5-Step Framework, the audience will leave with actionable strategies to implement immediately within their organizations. These strategies encompass fostering engagement, building resilience, enhancing communication, and promoting effective decision-making.


Marc Koehler Blog
Marc Koehler is a former U.S. Navy Nuclear Submarine Officer, Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Leadership Author, 35+ Year Sought-After Elite Leadership Expert and Founder of the Leadership Development and Research Firm Lead With Purpose

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