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182 – Turn Your Ship Around

by Jill

In this podcast episode, we’re delving into the world of leadership, through the experience of a commanding officer plays in shaping the culture and morale of their ship. We will review the book It’s Your Ship, Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff. We’re exploring how the principle of “ownership” can transform a low-morale ship into a thriving, successful vessel. Captain Abershoff allows his crew to take ownership of their areas of responsibility, allowing them to make decisions and solve problems independently unless it would cause significant monetary loss or harm to the ship or crew. This way, the crew members feel more involved and responsible, which increases their overall morale and productivity.

We’re discussing how he fostered a sense of community and camaraderie among the crew is vital in improving their morale and productivity. He enabled small gestures, like improving the quality of food or organizing beach barbecues, to make a significant difference in boosting the crew members’ spirits. The commanding officer also encourages personal growth among his crew by helping them improve in their areas of interest and promoting them based on their performance.

But leadership also means knowing what your company, country, ship, its mission and your boss needs for you to do. You should be aware of their goals in order for the ship to fulfill those goals and to create trust between you and the leadership. Once you have built that trust, you will have more ability to make changes for your team.

We’re examining some of the challenges and potential pitfalls of this leadership style. While it successfully turned the ship around, it created some animosity among other ship commanders who felt threatened or uncomfortable with the unconventional approach. The commanding officer reflects that he could have been more diplomatic in dealing with his counterparts and built bridges instead of alienating them.

In conclusion, a commanding officer, family leader or any leader can significantly influence their team’s morale and productivity. Fostering a sense of ownership, community, personal growth, and fun can profoundly impact the team’s performance.


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