Captain D. Michael Abrashoff leads by example in his tale of turning one of the lowest ranking ships into one of the highest ranking ships in the Pacific Fleet within weeks upon his arrival. The reader is taken on a trip along with the Captain as he explores his power to change the morale and communication methods of a 300 person crew. He states in his third chapter“ A leader will never accomplish what he or she wants by ordering it; real leadership must be done by example, not precept”. Taking a shot at micromanaging leaders, Abrashoff accentuates the importance of freedom not weakening discipline but rather strengthening it. He declares “Free people have a powerful incentive not to screw up…Trust makes money.” This book has many valuable lessons that Captain Abrashoff considers his “grassroots” to be carried on and applied to everyday life and/or career.
“It’s Your Ship” was written to explain Captain Abrashoff”s grass roots and why they work. He wants his crew members and even civilian workers to feel empowered so they can think autonomously. When your employees are proud of the work they are doing, they feel they own a part of the organization as well and will perform to get it done correctly the first time. He states “Empower your people, and at the same time give them guide lines within which they are allowed to roam”(pg. 106). Empowering your people to do the work well, rather than second guess and doubt their abilities is the day you will see enormous change in not only morale but also efficiency. Empowering your people also means communicating with each individual, truly knowing how they operate and function. Communication is essential as people’s backgrounds play a huge role in who they are and how they work. Getting to know your crew/employees can establish a level playing field for them to feel more comfortable and confident speaking to you in the work environment. Most leaders try to leave their employees out of the know as they believe it gives them an advantage when it is really quite the opposite. Informing your employees creates collective knowledge. Collective knowledge will then further improve your organization’s operating system and overall efficiency. In result, the leader will have a much more willing team to lead, and if your leadership skills are that of Captain Abrashoff’s, your crew will no longer be fighting to get off the ship, but rather to stay on.
By Kendall Daniels
Kilpatrick Townsend – Raleigh, NC