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It's Our Ship: The No-Nonsense Guide to Leadership Hardcover – May 12, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus; 1 edition (May 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446199664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446199667
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

CAPTAIN D. MICHAEL ABRASHOFF is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and was a military assistant to the former secretary of defense, the Honorable Dr. William J. Perry. Abrashoff left the Navy in 2001 and became the founder and CEO of Grassroots Leadership, Inc., in Boston. You can visit his website at

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 27 customer reviews
This is a great book to read or listen to.
James R. Hunt
An easy read full of interesting stories revealing management successes and valuable lessons learned.
Philip Mallows
This book is worth reading several times to fully grasp the nuances of the lessons being taught.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Reiner W. Lambert on June 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Captain D. Michael Abrashoff's leadership methods and his books. His latest, IT'S OUR SHIP - The No Nonsense Guide to Leadership is the third in a series based on his command tour aboard USS BENFOLD (DDG65) and building on his experiences with leaders in the business world. In this third book, I see Michael's growth as an author and as a leader. The third book includes some snippets from the story outlined in his first best seller - IT'S YOUR SHIP. Sure to be a best seller in its own right, IT'S OUR SHIP provides a great blend of Michael's own story with those of other proven leaders in the business world. These are stories worth telling and Michael tells them exceedingly well. In his latest book, he takes you back to USS Benfold, then to The Container Store, Pitney Bowes, Aflac, 1-800-GOT-JUNK and many other commercial enterprises before ending where he started - USS BENFOLD. From each enterprise, he brings together their leadership lessons with his and demonstrates that these principles work in every environment. All it takes is "collaboration" - the key word in this book.

I come at the three books (the second was GET YOUR SHIP TOGETHER) from a different perspective and much more critical eye than most readers. I was commissioned the same year (1982) Michael was - though from Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island rather than the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. We both assumed command in 1997 (though my command was a shore command) and we both worked for the Secretary of Defense (though mine was Donald H. Rumsfeld - as fine, patriotic, and honest a man as ever served (twice) in that demanding position).
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mary K. Parker on June 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In "It's Our Ship," CAPT Mike Abrashoff describes the element missing from his first book, "It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy," a bold leadership approach that turned the conventional ideas of stodgy senior Navy leaders on its head. I used many of the techniques he described in his initial book to shape my own work environment in healthcare. What he describes in his latest book, and what I have come to realize in my own endeavors, is the wisdom of collaboration.

Instead of encouraging healthy sustainable improvements, competition (as in "the best") can actually provoke schadenfreude (glee in another's downfall) and off-track searches for armor chinks. Collaborative leadership looks to the bigger picture, to the mission and accomplishments of the larger organization that create opportunities for all to benefit.

Abrashoff uses the nautical theme to organize his material into eight chapters:
1. Ahoy - Welcome aboard our ship
In this chapter, Abrashoff describes one of the techniques he used on the USS Benfold to welcome new sailors and describes learning good and poor leadership in his experiences on the Benfold. He highlights the practices developing a company "World Tour," where new employees receive a "passport" with lists of to-do training and customer-service classes. Another company hired its best customers, resulting in a turnover rate of less than 10% while competitors routinely face 70% turnover rates. Companies must continue to recruit people even after they're onboard.
2. Buoy up your people - inspiring everyone to be their best.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Maslanka on July 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Finishing this book, I thought, it's ok. Fundamental advice, nothing too innovative, well told: treat your people well; make sure even those with tough jobs get your appreciation and understand you know that their job requires skill like any other( Abrashoff tells of visiting on a regular basis the sole sailor responsible for the ship's waste); train your people to be good and then delegate to them; make sure you understand that people are always looking at what the leader says and does. and take their cue accordingly. But, on reflection, the book is much more, although not apparent. It really is a story of a guy who worked for an organization that is rigid, with often pointless rituals, and arrogant leadership. That is, the Navy. The real narrative and book value is how he managed well in this environment. By way of example, his evals of his officers were forced ranked a la Enron, and made or broke careers, pitting one officer against another and making it harder to manage, not easier( so he told them I can't change the system but I will help you transition to civilian life by getting you marketable assignments). Great section on how to decide how much risk to undertake and deciding what is worth a risk. For those stuck in this type of organization, the books speaks to you. Take a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Great leaders give off heat, an energy that frees others of their inhibitions and encourages people to start controlling their own desires, according to Captain Michael Abrashoff in this book. This is the second leadership book by the man who used to be the "skipper of the best ship in the US Navy", containing lessons that can usefully be added to those from the first book. These include:

* Starting well: how to attract the right kind of people, bring them aboard in a welcoming manner, and keep them happy and eager to come to work each day.
* Defining excellence: how to show your crew members what excellence is about, then share responsibility for decision making, and build confidence through training.
* Listening to truth-tellers: how to deliver bad news, challenge questionable decisions, and encourage your own crew to be candid even when it hurts.
* Prioritise collaboration: how to discourage mindless rivalry, be generous with your praise, and drive our bickering, sabotage and disunity.
* Create trust: how to keep your promises, treat your people with respect and delegate authority in order to cultivate a climate of trust.
* Be clear about the mission: how to use previous achievements to inspire staff, state your ethical guidelines clearly, stress your core values, and avoid diversions.
* Hedge your bets: how to avoid recklessness while navigating through acceptable risks with big potential payoffs.
* Lead by doing the right thing: how to use your own failures as lessons for others and turn the constant scrutiny of others into teachable moments.

There is plenty of good advice in the book, and the writing style is clear and interesting. Most readers who have some experience of leadership will find that the book reinforces their current knowledge rather than providing anything particularly startling or novel, although each issue is presented from the unique perspective of a navy captain.
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