It’s Your Ship by Captain Michael Abrashoff

If you haven’t already heard of this book, the subtitle tells you exactly what it’s about “Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy”. At it’s core, this book is about the people and forces that shaped Captain Abrashoff’s counter-cultural approach to leadership and the lessons he learned commanding the USS Benfold.

It’s Your Ship balances lofty grand visions of what great leadership means with an abundance of humble and honest anecdotes from putting those ideals into practice.

I’ll admit… I was initially skeptical of Captain Abrashoff… My own prejudice convinced me forward-thinking lessons didn’t come out of military hierarchy. I was wrong.

I’ve been incredibly impacted by this book in short-term and long-term ways. As I write this, I manage a team of 7 staff members at PLNU’s student radio station (Aka Point Radio #represent), and this book inspired me to double down and make very concrete changes to how I lead my team.

Just read some of my favorite chapter titles:

Learn Real Leadership

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

Improve Your People’s Quality of Life

See what I’m saying? Isn’t “Listen Aggressively one of the best mottos you’ve ever heard? That is one hell of a guiding principle.

Abrashoff was given command over one of the poorest performing ships in the pacific fleet, and through empowerment, listening, and respect he built the space for his crew to thrive. In 15 months, that same crew earned the Spokane Trophy. They were the best surface ship in the pacific fleet.

This isn’t a book for CEOs and politicians. The fact is, we are all leaders one way or another. Everyone has something to learn here!

I recognize my idea of “pleasure reading” isn’t totally normal, but if you have the chance to read this book go for it. It’s quick chapters and clearly marked subsections make it easy to pick up and put down for a few minutes of reading here and there.

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