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It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy Hardcover – May 22, 2002
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Other than the sobering fact that real lives are regularly at stake, running a navy ship is a lot like running a business: leaders of both must get the most out of their crews to operate at peak efficiency and complete the tasks at hand. As commander of the highly acclaimed USS Benfold, Captain D. Michael Abrashoff irrefutably demonstrated how progressive management can succeed at sea; in It's Your Ship, he translates his methods into an approach that can also be applied by land-bound captains of commerce and industry. Describing "the ideas and techniques that I used to win my sailors' trust and, eventually, their enthusiastic commitment to our joint goal of making our ship the best in the fleet," Abrashoff cites embarrassing failures along with subsequent triumphs to illuminate the keys to his accomplished 20-month tenure aboard the guided missile destroyer. His suggestions: lead by example; listen aggressively; communicate purpose and meaning; create a climate of trust; look for results, not salutes; take calculated risks; go beyond standard procedure; build up your people; generate unity; and improve your people's quality of life. While hardly original on the surface, Abrashoff's course should provide practical direction and inspiration for any leader hoping for similarly positive results in similarly rigid organizations. --Howard Rothman
About the Author
At the age of 36, the Navy selected Mike to become Commander of USS Benfold - at the time, the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet. The immediate challenges that faced him were staggering: Exceptionally low morale with unacceptably high turnover and poor performance results. Few thought that this ship could improve.
The solution was to establish a system of management techniques that Mike calls Grassroots Leadership. At the core of his leadership approach on Benfold was a process of replacing command and control with commitment and cohesion, and by engaging the hearts, minds, and loyalties of workers - with conviction and humility. "The most important thing that a captain can do is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew." According to Mike, Grassroots Leadership and his Leadership Roadmap is a practice that empowers every individual to share the responsibility of achieving excellence. "It's your ship," he was known to say. His former sailors to this day still remind him of it.
By every measure, these principles were able to achieve breakthrough results. Personnel turnover decreased to an unprecedented 1 percent. The rate of military promotions tripled, and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25 percent. Regarded as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, Benfold won the prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest degree of combat readiness.
Mike recounted the leadership lessons from his turnaround of USS Benfold in It's Your Ship. First published in 2002, it quickly became a classic in the field of management books. It's a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Seller.
Prior to commanding USS Benfold, Mike served as the Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Dr. William J. Perry. He also helped draft the air defense plan for naval forces in the Persian Gulf in 1990, coinciding with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; and served as the Executive Officer of the Cruiser Shiloh, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
Mike, a 1982 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, is now an experienced entrepreneur and thought leader having founded GLS World, a leadership development company dedicated to helping organizations an individuals deliver the best results in a challenging global environment. You can visit his website at www.glsworld.com.
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Top customer reviews
Abrashoff writes with an interesting combination of pride and modesty. There's no limit in to how far you can go if you do things to improve your company without caring about who gets the credit. Give opportunities to succeed to others below you, recognize the individual's characteristics, talents, views and needs and seek ways to incorporate them into the organization to improve it for everyone!
Decades ago my teenage niece gave me a paperweight which I kept prominently displayed which read:
"You're not hopeless, we can use you as a bad example."
At first it comes across as a put down, but to me it was a tongue-in-cheek reminder that everyone has value and can contribute to the group's success.
The biggest thing that I got from this book (and I fully intend to reread it and take notes the second time through) was how to be effective when procedures, culture, and bureaucracy all seem to be fighting against you. Not everyone may appreciate Captain Abrashoff's style, but there is no doubt the rapid and impressive results he achieved testify to many of the truths he adopted and employed. As a middle manager at a growing company, this book has energized and inspired me in many ways, and has also confirmed for me many of the things that I have been doing or have wanted to do. I have also been awakened to the importance and the challenge of managing up, something that I have not wanted to spend much if any time doing in the past.
Yea, I'm pretty sure the guy I'm talking about didn't read the book.
At first I was like, mehhhhhh, because I had to read this book for a leadership class and any time i'm assigned to read something, I assume it's not going to be pleasant. Boy was I wrong!
Captain Abrashoff has a lot to offer and teach in terms of leadership styles and techniques. He did an amazing job rehabilitating the crew of the USS Benfold through alternative leadership activities. I was having so much fun reading this book and getting ideas that I could apply at my place of work, that I finished it two weeks before I was required to. The anecdotes told by Captain Abrashoff are so very interesting and illustrate excellent examples of the techniques he is trying to teach.
Thank you for your service Captain Abrashoff, and thank you for changing my leadership style!