Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"Get Your Ship Together" - A Review of Mike Abrashoff's Latest Offering

Since leaving the Navy, Mike Abrashoff has set sail on a second career that includes leadership consulting, speaking and writing – helping those in the world of commerce to navigate the tricky currents of competition, change, and corporate complacency. His latest book follows in the wake of his best seller that I reviewed yesterday, and chronicles heroes from business and the military as they demonstrate the practical wisdom of leading through building teams of committed employees. “Get Your Ship Together – How Great Leaders Inspire Ownership from the Keel Up,” offers six portraits of leaders who “get everyone to buy into the cause and accept personal responsibility for the organization.”

I found this book to be both inspiring and full of practical wisdom. The six leaders whose leadership stories Abrashoff shares are different enough in temperament, context and in the specific challenges they face that it becomes clear that the book’s leadership principles truly are universal in their application.

First Lieutenant Gabriel “Buddy” Gengler was faced with transforming a platoon of soldiers trained to launch rockets into a band of street-fighting urban guerillas.

Trish Karter of Dancing Deer Bakery in Roxbury, MA had to find a recipe for building a team that shared her vision of delivering a balanced diet of world-class cakes and cookies, healthy profits and community involvement as the icing on the cake!

Roger Valine is CEO of Vision Service Plan in Rancho Cordova, CA. Roger has been able to see his way clear to build an enterprise that has cornered the market on eye-care benefit plans while creating an atmosphere that focuses on giving his employees a healthy lifestyle balance between work and family.

Al Collins rose from the backwater of Warner Robins, GA to sail the seas as Captain of the USS Fitzgerald. During his voyage to his role as a naval officer and inspiring leader, he learned to apply his mother’s words of advice spoken as he prepared to leave the Deep South: “You’ll never be a great leader until you’re a great follower.”

Laura Folse leads a team of 700 scientists and engineers at BP – a rare female leader in the male dominated world of oil exploration. Laura has fueled her success at BP with an unshakable determination to use her staff as consultative partners who share accountability for the success of each project. Her approach has tapped a deep reservoir of trust and loyalty among her team members.

Ward Clapham of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has pioneered “smart policing” across Canada. In the course of learning to work alongside community leaders to refine police priorities and procedures, Mountie Ward was forced to mount several challenges against the entrenched bureaucracy of those above him in the RCP chain of command.

The overarching impression I have after having read and absorbed the stories of these six very different leaders is that great leadership can happen anywhere – in any setting, in any context, in any company – as long as the leader is willing to share the vision, the responsibility and the credit with her team.

I trust you will enjoy this book as much as I did. Anchors aweigh!


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