Capt. D. Michael Abrashoff
Warner Books, 2002
It’s Your Ship, by Capt. D. Michael Abrashoff is good read on understanding the basics of what he calls grassroots leadership he developed while a Commander in the Navy. He takes the reader through the journey of having a cutting-edge ship handed over him, while finding his own leadership lacking his expectations. While defying conventional Navy leadership tactics, Abrashoff created “a crew of confident and inspired problem-solvers eager to take the initiative and responsibility for their actions.” He ultimately succeeded in turning the USS Benfold into the “best damn ship in the Navy” in a matter of months. Within two years his ship became legendary inside and outside the Navy.
Abrashoff shares the valuable management skills he developed and effectively illustrates examples of how one can translate the same success in today’s businesses. Highlighting key concepts such as: see the ship through the eyes of the crew, communicate purpose and meaning, lead by example, and build up your people. The vivid examples he uses from his naval history make the reading interesting while educational. It’s Your Ship is a great book for any manager wanting to learn more on effective ways to better manage his employees.
Abrashoff begins the book by informing the reader of how his story begins; when he is given command of the USS Benfold. The Benfold was the Navy’s most advanced guided missile destroyer the Navy had in 1997 and its command was to be one of the Navy’s top innovators. Unfortunately, Abrashoff points out some flaws with the Navy’s personnel management that I found to be shocking. First, was that “nearly 35 percent of the people who joined the military annually, wouldn’t complete their enlistment contracts.” (p.2) Such turnover can be understood by many business managers in the service industry, but unlike the quick and cheap training process for them, the cost for the military (taxpayers) is astounding. Abrashoff estimates that it cost roughly “$35,000 to recruit a trainee and tens of thousands more in additional training costs to get new personnel to the basic level of proficiency.” (p.2) Curbing this trend on his own ship and eventually helping to achieve a decrease overall in the mil...
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...l the problems confronting Abrashoff are the same problems that managers outside the military are dealing with. By using vivid examples taken from his years in the naval service, he is able to put a fresh new spin on these management principals. Many believe that these new leadership tactics will not work in many of the old established corporate climates, but if anyone is resistant to change it is the military. By showing the steps in how he challenge the conventional wisdom in a job in which reprimand is quick and harsh, should give motivation for any manager to try.
I personally found this book to be an excellent read, and while I haven’t read to many business management books. I can feel safe to say that I think this one does an excellent job in conveying key management principals for today’s workplace. It also appealed to me due to my fascination with the way in which our military operates. I believe he did a great job of staying clear of getting too detailed in either is leadership model and military jargon. I would recommend this book to anyone who feels intimidated by management books that read more like a textbook, who want to learn but also enjoy the reading too.
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