RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT, Texas –
Editor’s Note: March is National Reading Month. Everyday reading increases knowledge and develops personal and professional skills. Throughout the month, the DLA Disposition Services Pathways to Career Excellence program participants are sharing insights from books* they recently finished. *No official Department of Defense endorsement implied.
I had the opportunity while in college to take a course that incorporated the book “It’s Your Ship
” by Capt. D. Michael Abrashoff.
The book is aimed toward the military and business world where we must improve ourselves, while working to improve everyone else, resulting in the mission being accomplished efficiently and effectively.
Like I am sure many others who have ventured in college courses there are additional readings other than just the textbook that come along the way. We probably all have had the same thoughts, “I wonder why they would add additional readings other than that of the normal course materials?” This thought crossed my mind many times during my time in college, but little did I know that this book would change my outlook on many aspects in my life, especially with how I approached my own course in the business world and one day as a leader amongst others on a large scale or a small scale. Even though the book navigates through many important topics with being a leader and trusting your crew or staff, there were a couple of topics that really stuck out to me personally.
The book “It’s Your Ship” covers the following topics: lead by example, listen aggressively, communicate purpose and meaning, create a climate of trust, look for results, take calculated risks, go beyond standard procedures, build up your people’s confidence, generate unity, and improve your people’s quality of life as much as possible.
The book shares a story of a United States Navy commanding officer as he begins his voyage as commander of the USS Benfold. The USS Benfold is a ship that found its place among the seas of the Pacific Fleet. The book depicts a two-year deployment for Abrashoff into the remote seas of being a leader, by investing in ways to help his people grow and stay within their organization while creating a culture of responsibilities, improvements, and confidence amongst his crew.
One of the key statistics during this process that Abrashoff came across was that of a Gallop poll in which he found that 65% of people who left companies or organizations was because of their leaders or managers. That number is astounding and stood out the most to me as it would with anyone who was trying to figure out a better way to run a company or in this case a ship. To get a better understanding of the service members he wanted to get an idea of “why” they were leaving the Navy. To do so, he had to determine the best way to get the answer.
Surveys give very valuable information within any organization. While reading these surveys Abrashoff found: not being treated with respect and dignity, being prevented from making an impact on the organization, not being listened to, not being rewarded with more responsibility and low pay. These are not exactly the results I would assume having been a member the United States Army, but then again, I could relate to these findings.
After learning of this, Abrashoff decided to come up with a new organization principle: see the ship through the eyes of the crew and implement processes that will help people enjoy what they are doing. If leaders can see what people are doing at their level of the process and understand this then they can make better decisions because it not only affects them, it affects everyone within the organization in one way or another. If people are happy and enjoy what they do every day, then they are more apt to be productive and stay.
I keep this book within my reach and often find myself re-visiting it from time to time since I attended that course a few years ago. Even though I was never on this ship or had the opportunity to be under the command of Abrashoff, a leader like himself is someone that any person under his command would have greatly appreciated.
I highly recommend reading this book if you are seasoned leader, a newly appointed leader or that someday you are striving to become one. Just remember It’s Your Ship, everyone is on it, so we all must take pride and ownership from the top to the bottom.