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It's Our Ship: The No-Nonsense Guide to Leadership

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Book Overview

Captain D. Michael Abrashoff, legendary commander of the USS Benfold, continues in the same vein of his bestselling book It's Your Ship with the knowledge he's gained from his speaking to and advising... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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More than "old wine in new bottles"

There are countless leadership books available, and many of them simply repackage the old chestnuts in a new context or apply new terminology to the same principles. Michael Abrashoff somehow manages a different take on leadership. His success in turning around a ship and making it the pride of the fleet gives him credibility, as does his willingness to make the right decision even in the face of the unforgiving military promotion machine, recognizing that he was signaling the end of his rise through the ranks. Abrashoff's compassionate but firm style would serve many leaders well, regardless of their field. "It's Our Ship" an easy but provocative read and well worth the time.


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). When I assumed command, I was taking over for an interim caretaker Commanding Officer who was nurturing a command back to health after two failed Inspector General inspections (somewhat like the Operational Propulsion Plant Examination that USS BENFOLD had failed before Michael assumed command). I know first-hand the challenges of command. I retired as a Navy Captain in 2006 with a career spanning 30 years of service as an enlisted Sailor and a commissioned one. I am a Navyman. I fully appreciate the context of his books and the purpose for which they were written. Read these books, apply the principles and watch your people grow, succeed and surpass your expectations. I know that the leadership principles that Michael outlined in all three books work. They work extraordinarily well, when properly employed. They worked for him, they worked for me, they work for Commanding Officers at sea and ashore today, and they will work for you. Captain Abrashoff is a masterful leader and brilliant storyteller. I've gone back to do some research and can't validate that "virtually all 310 Sailors were deeply demoralized" or that "clearly his (the former CO's) leadership had failed", as Michael has described the situation. I say this, because statements like these are toned down a bit in his second and third b

Use Collaborative Leadership to Go Further

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. In this chapter, he states, "A great leader defines excellence and then inspires his team to exceed it through training and staff development." He then reviews several companies who have developed innovative training programs. 3. No more aye-aye men (or women) - cultivating truth-telling. Wishful thinking is dangerous and he gives suggestions on how to deliver bad news and how to keep communication flowing up and down. Honesty and integrity are to be nurtured and encouraged. 4. All hands on deck - unifying a crew. Abrashoff says, "Mindless rivalry leads to backstabbing, an ethos of every man for himself, and probably unit failure when danger threatens." He adds, "Nothing beats the power of unifying disparate people, of showing them the magic of working with and for each other instead of against each other. Quite simply, the first law of leadership in today's world is to give people irresistible incentives to collaborate for a purpose that enhances everyone." 5. Foul weather doesn't respect rank - creating a climate of trust. An ancient proverb says a fish rots from the head down. Abrashoff discusses the importance of developing trust, pursuing excellence without arrogance, and treating all with courtesy and respect. He also reviews the principle of fairness and justice. 6. Navigate by the stars - Clarifying what it's all about. Do you know the mission of your organi

Volunteers facing Adversity

I am leading a congregation that is facing adversity with budget and staffing issues. Lots of people are willing to offer suggestions, but only half the people are willing to pitch in to do the work. Some people are willing to help but not be leaders. The stories illustrate how to build trust and earn respect with people, how to motivate people to tackle the worse jobs, and how to have fun while facing adversity.

A proven guide to successful leadership...

[....] Captain D. Michael Abrashoff brings his vast experience and expertise from the Benfold to business leaders. The Benfold went from "a dysfunctional guided missile destroyer to the best damn ship in the Navy." With experience comes maturity. Abrashoff has learned that it takes teamwork to achieve success. A good leader will inspire, challenge, and demonstrate excellence in those he leads. He will cultivate truth, trust, and respect. Positive results will come from example. Abrashoff offers readers advice through stories. His methods are practical and proven successful. He presents the information in a simple easy-to-understand form. Regardless of whether it is a large or small business, persons in all positions of leadership will find It's Our Ship a priceless tool.
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