It’s Your Ship with Mike Abrashoff: Lead to Succeed 41

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In this Lead to Succeed episode, Naphtali interviews Mike Abrashoff. Mike is at the center of one of the most remarkable modern-day stories of organizational transformation. At the age of 36, the Navy selected Mike to become Commander of USS Benfold. At the time he was the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet – on a ship that was plagued by low morale, high turnover and abysmal performance evaluations. Few thought that the ship could improve – yet 12 months later the ship was ranked #1 in performance – using the same crew. People were amazed and the lesson was clear – leadership matters and culture is everything.

  • 2:09 – Naphtali introduces Mike

  • 2:37 – Should new leaders should bring their own people in to join them or work with holdovers?

  • 4:47 – What Mike would do during the first 30 days in a new position

  • 6:57 – Why Mike interviewed every crew member of the USS Benfold

  • 7:25 – The benefits of a “fear free” culture

  • 9:47 – What “playing to win” means to Mike

  • 10:02 – How giving people space actually improves discipline

  • 10:37 – The question no one ever asked this technician before

  • 11:08 – Accountability is not empowerment, empowerment leads to accountability

  • 14:00 – A powerful question Mike used to interview his sailors

  • 17:58 – How terrified Mike was when he first became captain

  • 21:11 – What motivated Mike to pick up trash on the ship’s deck

  • 23:17 – Why Mike challenged long standing beliefs

  • 26:01 – The benefits of steady, incremental improvements

  • 27:10 – What Mike is most proud of

  • 31:05 – Rapid fire

  • 34:02 – Connect with Mike on LinkedIn and check out his website

  • 35:15 – Assume others want to do a great job

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