The U.S Navy selected Mike Abrashoff to become Commander of the USS Benfold at the age of 36, making him the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet at the time.
The immediate challenges that faced Mike on this underperforming warship were staggering: low morale, high turnover and unacceptably low performance evaluations. In many ways, the USS Benfold was actually an extreme example of the same problems facing many organizations today.
The solution was to establish a system of management techniques that he called The Leadership Roadmap. At the core of his leadership approach was a process of replacing command and control with commitment and cohesion, and by engaging the hearts, minds and loyalties of sailors with both conviction and humility.
"The most important thing that a captain can do is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew" - says Abrashoff. The Leadership Roadmap is a practice that empowers every individual to share the responsibility of achieving excellence. "It's your ship," he was known to say.
By every measure these principles were able to achieve breakthrough results. The rate of military promotions tripled, and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25%. Regarded now as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, the USS Benfold won the prestigious Spokane Trophy for "highest degree of combat readiness". This transformation took place with the same crew - what changed was the ship's culture.
Abrashoff recounted the leadership lessons from the turnaround of the USS Benfold in "It's Your Ship", New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller, with over 800.000 copies sold to date - leading to two follow-up books, "Get Your Ship Together" and "It's Our Ship".
Prior to commanding the USS Benfold, Abrashoff served as Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. He also helped draft the air defense plan for naval forces in the Persian Gulf -coinciding with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait- and served as Executive Officer of the Cruiser Shiloh, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of the United Nations' sanctions against Iraq.
Mike Abrashoff is the founder of GLS Worldwide, a consulting firm which works with and supports leaders as they address leadership, talent and business challenges within their organization. The firm challenges leaders at all levels to reimagine their leadership thinking and create new ways to elevate individual, team and organizational performance.