NENA 2013 Monday Keynote Speaker: Mike Abrashoff
Former Commander, USS Benfold
and Author of It’s Your Ship
Monday, June 17 | 8:00AM - 10:00AM
At the age of
36, the Navy selected Abrashoff to become Commander of USS Benfold - at the time, the most junior commanding officer in the
Pacific Fleet. The immediate challenges that faced him on this underperforming
Naval war ship were staggering: exceptionally low morale, high turnover and
unacceptably low performance evaluations. Few thought that this ship could
improve. In many ways, Benfold was
actually an extreme example of the same problems facing many organizations
The solution was
to establish a system of management techniques that Abrashoff calls The
Leadership Roadmap. At the core of his leadership approach on Benfold was a process of replacing
command and control with commitment and cohesion, and by engaging the hearts,
minds, and loyalties of workers - with conviction and humility. "The most
important thing that a captain can do is to see the ship through the eyes of
the crew." According to 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. His former sailors
to this day still remind him of it.
measure, these principles were able to achieve breakthrough results. Personnel
turnover decreased to an unprecedented 1 percent. The rate of military
promotions tripled, and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25 percent.
Regarded as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, Benfold won the prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest
degree of combat readiness. Most important – this transformation took place
with the same crew. What had changed was
the ship’s culture and Abrashoff’s leadership style.
recounted the leadership lessons from the turnaround of USS Benfold in It's Your Ship, a New York
Times and Wall Street Journal
bestseller, withnearly one million copies sold to date. This extraordinary interest in Abrashoff’s
leadership journey and Benfold’s
organizational lessons led to two follow-up books – Get Your Ship Together and It’s
Our Ship. Those books took readers
deeper into ways these principles have been put into action by business leaders
in their own organizations.
commanding Benfold, Abrashoff served
as the Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. He also
helped draft the air defense plan for naval forces in the Persian Gulf in 1990,
coinciding with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; and served as the Executive Officer
of the Cruiser Shiloh, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of
United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
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 re-imagine their leadership thinking and
create new ways to elevate individual, team and organizational performance.