In part II, I continue to discuss the nature of leadership based on a review of the academic literature. See Part I here if you missed the introduction.
Here we discuss the following:
Because he understood leadership, Captain Abrashoff transformed one of the worst performing ships in the Navy into the best of its class. I highly recommend the book.
WARNING: As a sailor, Captian Abrashoff has a salty tongue, so the book gets a PG-13 rating. But, I recommend the book because he understood the fundamentally empowering nature of leadership. Here are a few brief passages to illustrate:
I found that the more control I gave up, the more command I got. In the beginning, people kept asking my permission to do things. Eventually, I told the crew, ‘It’s your ship. You’re responsible for it. Make a decision and see what happens.’ Hence the Benfold watchword was ‘It’s your ship.’ Every sailor felt that Benfold was his or her responsibility (p. 6).
I was determined to create a culture where everyone on board felt comfortable enough to say to me, ‘Captain, have you thought of this?’ or ‘Captain, I’m worried about something,’ or even ‘Captain, I think you’re dead wrong and here’s why.’ Yes-people are a cancer in any organization, and dangerous to boot (p. 89).
How much more effective would our organizations be if all leaders thought like this? Have you ever worked for someone like Captain Abrashoff?
December 2, 2012
Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University