Emerging Leaders Program

Emerging Leaders

ICLD 1.7 It’s Your Ship: Discussion Board

Instructor: Dr. Mitch
  1. Post a new discussion related to the topics covered in this module.  Your post needs to provide specific lessons learned with examples from this module helping you enhance your leadership capacity at work.
  2. After posting your discussion, review posts provided by other students in the class and reply to at least one of them. 


  • Hello everyone,

    I recently read “It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy” by D. Michael Abrashoff, and I must say it was a great read. Abrashoff, a former Navy captain, shares his experiences and strategies for effective leadership and management on his ship. The book contains practical and applicable insights useful in any leadership role.

    One of my key takeaways from the book was the importance of empowering and trusting your team members. Abrashoff encouraged his crew to take ownership and initiative in their roles, ultimately leading to a more efficient and successful ship. He also emphasized the importance of clear communication and setting clear expectations, which is crucial to any leadership role.

    Another valuable lesson from the book was recognizing and rewarding good performance. Abrashoff often praised his crew members for their hard work and dedication, which boosted their morale and motivation. This is something that I have started implementing in my leadership role, and I have noticed a positive impact on the team’s performance.

    Abrashoff, D. M. (2002). It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy. Business Plus.

  • Powerful speech by the Captain. He spoke about courage, perseverance, respect, discipline and having a positive impact. All of these qualities are essential for any leader to be successful. These attributes are vitally important to members of the law enforcement community. Law Enforcement Officers deal with and see some of the most distressing situations imaginable. Especially important lessons for those in leadership positions in the Law Enforcement profession.

    • I would agree i also think about the comment how you need to get in your bosses head and anticipate what he or she wants before they know they want it. I have seen this many times in my dept and think it is great advice to move up the chain.

  • Abrashoff demonstrated several qualities of a good leader, one that stood out to me was that he knew the responsibility for improving performance rested with him. He knew he had to improve his own leadership skills before he could improve the ship. He used several management techniques that easily transfer to any organization. He believed in seeing the ship through the eyes of his crew, he believed in constant communication, he created discipline by focusing on purpose, and he listened aggressively. By doing these things consistently he created a crew that was confident, wanted to solve problems, and wanted to take the initiative to take responsibility for their actions. These types of employees will drive any organization forward.

    • I completely agree with you. Abrashoff’s leadership qualities are remarkable, especially his willingness to take responsibility for improving performance. It’s inspiring to see how he focused on improving his skills and used various management techniques that can be applied to any organization. His focus on seeing things through the eyes of the crew, constant communication, discipline, and listening actively have created a culture of motivated employees who take responsibility and are willing to solve problems. Such employees are an asset to any organization and can drive it to success.

  • This was a good summary of “It’s Your Ship”. Another main common theme with this great leader was to get out of the office and walk with subordinates in the trenches. He sought out opinions and wanted to know about what motivated them, their goals, their dreams, and their personal lives. One thing that struck me specifically was that he admitted he did not know how to do their jobs. His job was to manage, but he knew that it was not his job to micro-manage every task of his subordinates, rather, to look at the big picture. He told his crews to find better ways to complete tasks and gave them the freedom and responsibility to act on that. He respected his employees, and in turn, they respected him. He acknowledged good work and gave credit where it was due loudly for all to hear. He believed it was important to give people enough time to be successful before critiquing, but also to allow second chances when people made mistakes. What he did best was he had a vision for his crew and gave them something to work for that they could all be proud of.

  • When we look at leadership we lean towards icons such as President Lincoln and it this module we learn a lot about how Captain Abrashoff was at a different time more of the same style of leadership as President Lincoln. What I thought was inspiring is how Captain Abrashoff made sure to know his subordinates and try to understand what was their motivating factor. He thrived on getting the best from what an individual could produce and seemed to me that he knew each member of his teams limitations. I believe in my experience that I do the same. I try to highlight a team members strength as utilize them in this capacity. as for their weaknesses I try to find ways that we can all improve together while helping the team member along the way.

  • In reading the book I felt like Captain Abrashoff looked up to Dr. Perry like Abraham Lincoln’s men may have look up to him. They share a very similar leadership style that rewards individual effort and takes “being in the thick of it” to heart. Just as Lincoln would leave the comforts of his office to mingle with less senior officers and see their views, Perry would also “rough it” if a situation called for him to go where he was needed to act with his men. I think they both exemplified “Leading by Example” and their men respected them more for it, because if they could do it, there is no excuse that they could not.

    It is a great morale booster to have a leader that will actively participate in company goals and not just “lead by email” as some are more accustomed to.

    • I agree that leaders participating in company goals is a great morale booster. When a leader “leads by email” as you put it, it gives people the impression that they don’t care about the vision of the department. If a leader doesn’t care why should the people under them? People are the most important assets to an organization and it is important to leave the office and get to know your people and find out what motivates them.

  • I found it very interesting that President Lincoln and Captain Abrashoff came from two different times but had the same basic concept regarding leadership. One of the quotes that I liked from Captain Abrashoff was about getting inside your bosses head and anticipate what they want before they know they want it. Take on their problems and make them look so good that you become indispensable. When they can’t get along without you, they will support nearly anything you wish to accomplish (2017). I laughed when I read this because I do this without realizing what the end result would be. When asked to complete a project I always try to anticipate what other questions would be asked and provide additional information they may need. I always thought of it as trying to provide additional information that I felt would be useful, I never really viewed it as making them look good to their bosses because they already had the answers they were going to ask them. Which in turn would provide me the ability to create information with little oversight. This sounds like a true win win situation for all involved.
    Benthin, G. (2017). The narrow road of leadership. 1.7, Week # 3. National Command and Staff College. Retrieved fromhttps://cloud.scorm.com/content/

  • I like that Commander Abrashoff went to his crew and got to know his members. I feel like it is a key component of being an effective leader. As a subordinate it makes you feel less of an employee that just works and unappreciated if they never come around nor talk to you. It is nice to be able to see the boss who’s in charge come around once in a while and just ask how you’re doing or how’s the family. Of course staying within boundaries of not going too far into conversation play in affect too.

    • I have to agree that there has to be some boundaries between supervisors and the members. It is very important to establish relationships with your members and to get to know them as individuals and what motivates them. However, as a leader you don’t want to cross that line to where you are viewed more as a friend then a leader. This could be difficult to enforce the rules or they may not feel they need to follow direction or orders.

  • My favorite element of Cmdr. Abrashoff’s idea on leadership was his willingness and encouragement of taking risks. In our job, in law enforcement, we attribute that sometimes to “creating case law.” Which is mostly a joke, but some times true. Statutes, Rules, Regulations, Orders, Policies… these are all things that are written over YEARS, decades, centuries. They will never be perfected and must be challenged constantly to make sure they are right, ethical, moral, and able to be followed. Even still, years later, we find there is some leeway in the way we handle our day to day obligations. Taking risks and moving forward with ideas that might not be commonplace, but not immoral or unethical, is how we achieve progress.

    • Good point, but case law is not always negative. Operating in the gray area can create positive case law for officers. On top of that, case law can always be updated, so just cause there is case law shouldn’t prohibit you from pushing the boundaries.

    • Sometimes individuals may believe that since the policies and procedures are put in place there is no way of thinking differently. This is where the phrase “we have always done it that way” comes from, however, if members don’t think outside of the box and the leaders don’t listen to other ways of completing tasks then there isn’t any room for growth. The world around us is constantly evolving and we have to use all of our resources to ensure that we are doing the job to our best ability and efficiently. I also liked how he asks his members if he was creating unnecessary work. This allows the leader to determine if change is needed or explain to the members why the task must be completed this way. This shows the members that the leader is looking out for their best interests but when his hands are tied it provides the members with the knowledge of why it must continue this way.

  • I like that Captain Abrashoff related work as “Fun” while working. He was able empower his subordinates with making routine tasks fun by whatever means, as long as they did not compromise safety, productivity, or breaking unnecessary rules. By doing this, he was able to motivate his crew to figure out ways to get the job done easier and more efficient, while eventually turning his ship into the one with the highest morale. I feel that having a sense of pride and being able to have fun while working is extremely important. If your having fun while working, you don’t always notice you are actually working. After some time, I as no longer having fun. It took a different perspective to change my mindset and remember what made this job fun again. That can transfer downhill and uphill depending on where you are in the hierarchy of things.

    • Yes! Fun at work is one of the most important aspects of leadership. Hopefully this is how I lead you, too! I believe that when your subordinates enjoy their job, they do well in their jobs. No one likes the guy who comes into work sour and never really wanting to get involved in anything. Having to wake up every morning and go to a job you hate, sucks. Once you make work a comfortable place to be, some place you can have fun and enjoy, work is no longer work.

    • Work should always be work when it comes down to it. Being able to have fun at work is even better. Enjoy the career you choose to have and make the best of it with your team members around you.

    • I agree that it is important to have fun at work. It allows for your team to enjoy the job they are doing. But there are limitations and we need to remember that even with having fun we must maintain the professional aspect of the job we are hired to do. Keeping members of our team motivated and engaged becomes a continues battle. Especially in todays world. Many of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement are afraid that they be doing the wrong thing even though they believe they are doing right and are following the law. But because a few bad influencers who wore the badge they have made it difficult for the ones who really want to serve and protect. I only hope that their supervisors can maintain the strength to inspire and keep their team mentally strong while also making their job enjoyable.

    • Everyone has a long career. We deal with a lot of crappy stuff during that time, so having fun is definitely essential. As he said, allowing fun where it doesn’t compromise safety, production, or break any necessary rules, only benefits the crew as a whole. They will provide a better work product when they enjoy the people they work with and the environment as a whole. I will agree, in this day and age, it can be difficult to know where the line is and everyone feels like they’re walking on egg shells. But, it’s probably more important than ever to create an environment on your crew, and at your department, where staff feel respected, praised for good work, and encouraged to have fun as the situation/time allows.

  • I enjoyed Michael Abrashoff’s It’s Your Ship, and found several valuable lessons demonstrated through the sharing of his experiences.

    The first was “learning to think like his boss,” which exemplifies the concept of managing up. If we can learn to foresee and proactively provide what our bosses need and expect, we are not only positioning ourselves for success, but our boss as well.

    The second was learning to “see the ship through the crew’s eyes,” enabling him to more effectively lead down. If we can earn the trust of our subordinates and learn about what motivates them, we will build positive relationships that will allow us to achieve our shared goals as a team.

    It’s Your Ship was an enjoyable read, and I’ll recommend it to others.

    • I agree that being able to understand your supervisor’s expectations and goals is just as important as being able to motivate your subordinates by being there with them and being a part of what they do. Trust that you are making the correct choices in the eyes of you supervisor so that you are able to protect youself and your subordinates.

    • Earning trust from your people is the foundation to a successful relationship. It’s like running a company. The customer has to believe in you and your product to have a successful company. Trust is something that is evolving and fluid. Trust is something that is nearly impossible to get back once it’s lost. I found that the most effective way to earn trust from a subordinate is the make a personal connection.

    • I also saw great value in the mind set of “thinking like your boss”. It is not only a good way to make your own work more efficient, but can also help with your own men. I think it is crucial for you to take an objective review of how you interact with your men and how they view you in order to better serve them.

  • I am a Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPAC) evaluator and am testing the system.

  • I am a Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPAC) evaluator and am testing the system.

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