It was a bit challenging for me, as a Service Specialist, to relate to the larger-than-life tales of management expertise in It’s Your Ship. Captain Abrashoff tells of running a Navy warship and making life-or-death, million-dollar-budget decisions, and I don’t even have anyone in my organization who reports to me – yet. And to be quite honest, after moving from a 12 year a teaching career, where I had such a monumental amount of responsibility, I wasn’t even sure I wanted anyone to report to me when I began this job. I was perfectly content to just do my job well and go home.
But then I read these stories of how one man was able to change not only some of the culture of his organization, but the lives of hundreds of sailors. Suddenly, the idea of moving back into a leadership position didn’t seem so daunting. Suddenly, it seemed like an exciting challenge to guide others into their potential. And really, leadership (as described by Captain Abrashoff) isn’t all that different from what I was trained to do as a teacher—challenge, encourage, and care. There’s an old saying in the education world that says, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” How similar in spirit that is to a quote from page 144 of the book–“I’m absolutely convinced that positive, personal reinforcement is the essence of effective leadership.”
Of course, the further I read, the more easily I found myself relating Captain Abrashoff’s actions to something I might actually do one day. I could be the person who makes sure new hires feel welcome and prepared for success. I could listen to a junior employee’s idea and advocate for them with senior management. I would gladly be the one who plans fun and engaging activities for the staff to improve their quality of life. Not only did this book make me realize I could be that kind of leader, it made me realize that I want to be.
So for now, I’ll continue to do my job to the best of my ability, looking for opportunities to go above and beyond, and to lead. Until the time comes that I transition into more of a leadership role, I will practice those principles that were outlined in this book anywhere I can, whether it be with my own leaders, my peers, or my children.
By Jill Hughes
Albemarle – Charlotte, NC