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It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  8,102 ratings  ·  590 reviews
The legendary tale of top-down change for anyone trying to navigate today's uncertain business seas.

New York Times Bestseller

When Captain Abrashoff took over as commander of USS Benfold, it was like a business that had all the latest technology but only some of the productivity. Knowing that responsibility for improving performance rested with him, he realized he had to i
Hardcover, 212 pages
Published May 22nd 2002 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2002)
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Travis Formulaic, maybe. I definitely feel like there's a predictability to his writing, but that's actually one of the strong points of the book. It is very…moreFormulaic, maybe. I definitely feel like there's a predictability to his writing, but that's actually one of the strong points of the book. It is very straight forward, without being too dry, full of rich, useful examples of his ideas.

While not specifically actionable (which, I feel, would have been a bit pedantic.. I don't like that aspect of some self-help books), I feel like his stories are very relatable, interesting, and easy to co-opt to any industry. He also does a good job of summarizing his points, which again I don't feel like negatively impacts the book.(less)

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Craig Wright
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This summary is taken from http://managingleadership.com/blog/20...

The U.S. Navy is perhaps the most technically-oriented service in the American military. Officers work their way up by developing and demonstrating comprehensive and immediate skills in the numerous individual systems that make ships responsive in combat. The focus here tends to be on technical competence – not necessarily on the sort of personal leadership ability that is emphasized more during an officer‘s development in the ot
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
Find another management book. I think that the author is a little bit full of himself and his accomplishments. The leadership/management techniques that are identified in each chapter are good but not really new news.

Having spent some time in the Navy and seen how the surface warefare (the people that drive ships) community operates I have a feeling the techniques were new to him. There are a number of things that the author mentions that just sound a little fishy to me. He seems to claim that
Brian S.
May 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Good book if you are a civilian. If you are a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy, you must refrain from throwing the book across the room.

I put off reading this book for 10 years and I finally decided to get around to it on this deployment. As Executive Officer of a cruiser and growing up in the Navy post CDR Abrashoff's command tour, I am astonished at the level of self horn blowing. I heard this guy speak at the Naval Academy about 10 years ago when he got out. Now, mind you, he resigned at
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm sorry and guilty for giving it 2 stars when everyone else seems to have rated it so highly. But I'm really sorry it doesn't work out for me. In my eyes, I see this book in the following way:

Some incident that happened (it can connect to whatever theory you want).
More Theory.
More Theory.
Some lecture.
Hard work is good bla bla.
Some other incident.


This is not what I was looking for. I was hoping for some kind of internal struggle maybe (in situations where we're not s
Oct 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to LaNae by: Work
Shelves: self-improvement
There were some good ideas in this book. However, by the end the self-congratulatory tone started to grate on my nerves. To be fair, he does give credit where credit is due. This was assigned reading for a recent conference I attended for work. One of my co-workers re-named it "My Ship Don't Stink". However, there were definitely good things to glean from this. Much of the message is to treat people in the manner in which they would like to be treated, show confidence in them, and the results wi ...more
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Abrashoff proves that crushing bureaucracy is no excuse for refusing to try new management styles. Within the confines of the Navy, where he could theoretically order personal to perform their best, Abrashoff finds ways - without violating regulations - of motivating his crew to want to perform their best. This book is an excellent read for anyone who thinks their workplace could be better.
This is my favorite book on business management. One day a director of sales handed it to me, and I casually put it aside, as there were hundreds of books at home patiently waiting for their turn to be read. Danged if I didn't keep stealing glances at the cover. I knew it was watching me. So I thought, why not read it at work? The books at home would never know. Separation of church and state, so to speak.

Microsoft has been in a freefall since it focused on Salutes o
Feb 11, 2022 rated it liked it
I found this to be a solid, common sense approach to leadership. Very readable and worth picking up.

As a hospital leader, I do my best to follow many of the same principles Abrashoff discusses. That said, I know with every decision I make, there are disagreements and people that feel things could have gone in a different direction. That's fine. Their perspective. That said, when Abrashoff shares his near 100% success rate, buy-in, and enthusiastic team response at every turn, I can't but feel l
Devin Partlow
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Let me try to sum this book up for you:
"Hello my name is Captain D. Michael Abraschoff and this is a book about how all the things I've done led to [superlative][nouns], in fact the best [qualifiers] I've ever seen. All of my decisions have had profound and everlasting effects on my environment of which are still in use today and every person in those environments has gone on to bigger and better things.

I've also been made aware of some correlations to business, so I've taken the time to sprink
Ryan Starr
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book presents a lot of good common sense leadership lessons that I will look to implement in my life. His lessons show that the burden of leadership involves being very self-aware of all the effects your actions on your followers, and how the little things (that really don’t take that much effort) can have positive ripple effects on an organization. I love the sea stories that the captain shared and would recommend this book to anyone looking to be a genuine leader in today’s individualisti ...more
Bob Wallner
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership, audible
Reading the reviews before listening to the audio book I thought It's Your Ship was going to be very arrogant and boastful... What I took away was that the officer was proud of what he was able to accomplish despite a culture that was working against him.

I think this is a very good read for leaders who have been in a leadership role for a few years. Some of the topics that he suggests like knowing when to break rules, require a bit of experience and could easily be done incorrectly.

I did enjoy
Yevgeniy Brikman
Mar 06, 2022 rated it liked it
I'm a bit torn on this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed the story of how Captain Abrashoff transformed the USS Benfold from one of the worst to one of the best performing ships in the navy, and I agreed with most of the management/leadership lessons in this book. On the other hand, something about the way those lessons were presented wasn't sticky or effective.

I think part of the problem is the book tells you what you need to do, but not how to do it. As it turns out, the "what" is fairly obviou
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read, business

Lead By Example:
Real leadership must be done by example, not precept. Whenever I could not get the
results I wanted, I swallowed my temper and turned inward to see if I was part of the
problem. I asked myself three questions:
1. Did I clearly articulate the goals?
2. Did I give people enough time and resources to accomplish the task?
3. Did I give them enough training?
I discovered that 90 percent of the time, I was at least as much a part of the problem as
my people were.
Never forget your effect
Feb 04, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Makes me wish if joined the NAVY under his command.
Jun 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Published almost 20 years ago now, "It's Your Ship" is a modern management classic that is widely read and recommended not just in the military but in Corporate America as well. When CMDR Abrashoff took command of the USS Benfold, the ship was the worst in the US Navy Pacific Fleet, but when he ended his command tour 2 years later, the ship was the best in the Pacific Fleet. Abrashoff explains how he did it in this book. Care for his sailors, openness to new ideas, a willingness to take risks an ...more
Ryan Rodriquez
Aug 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bureaucracy is one of the most inhibiting elements when it comes to progress and positive culture. The US Navy is no different. Oftentimes an analogy is used that when you're trying to change culture, a speedboat is easier to change course than an aircraft carrier. In the case of Captain D. Michael Abrashoff, he turns that analogy on it's head!

Captain Abrashoff was appointed commander of the USS Benfold in 1997, at the time it was the lowest performing ship in the Navy. Captain Abrashoff made th
Robert Postill
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This ends up being a compare and contrast because having read Turn the Ship Around reading this book initially felt very similar and then eventually drifted away. I read Turn the Ship Around before It's Your Ship and so this review is coloured by that fact.

So the book takes you through the author's leadership journey. Early on the book focuses on the leaders that the author took lessons from. The good and the bad. After that the book discusses specific tactics the author used to drive good perfo
Kevin Dinh
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very good take on leadership and an easy read for anyone who is super busy.
CDR Abrashoff had many basic leadership points that will allow anyone to further develop their own leadership attributes and beliefs. The points definitely allowed me to add to my leadership toolbox to be used in my role at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy as the Regimental Executive Officer and also in my future career as a Surface Warfare Officer (the same career path of CDR Abrashoff). Fun fact: I was able to work o
Matthew Kremer
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a good book on empowering your employees, not focusing on your personal success, and improving your organization as a whole. Many leaders need credit and that holds them back from being great. This book explains that well and provides examples. If you micromanage, been told you micromanage, or are too much involved in the day to day of your organization, you need to read this book for a different perspective. Unfortunately, I've frequently worked with micromangers whether in the militar ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership
“Empower your people, and at the same time give them guidelines within which they are allowed to roam.”

Abrashoff’s commandments:
Take command
Lead by example
Listen aggressively
Communicate purpose and meaning
Create a climate of trust
Look for results, not salutes
Take calculated risks
Go beyond standard procedure
Build up your people
Generate unity
Improve your people’s quality of life

Solid examples and fun stories. Little bit boastful, but don’t discount the advice for that.
May 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is about people centered leadership, and how an organization thrives when management empower their workers to do their best under appropriate circumstances. I really enjoyed reading the stories about how Abrashoff transformed his ship from a low performer to a top performer in the Navy. I wish he had included more stories about when things went wrong, because there is a lot to be learned from mistakes. But I learned a lot from the book and was a fun read.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: analysis, training
The author of this book becomes captain of a troubled ship and turns it into a high performer by his management techniques. There shouldn't be any real surprises for managers who are doing a good job. The problem is so many are doing a pathetic job. Unfortunately, I suspect the second category would not take these lessons to heart. ...more
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work-and-studies
Advices in this book might seem outdated for most work places, they are still progressive and relevant to mine. If I must stay at where I am now, it’s not a bad idea to implement few of these tips into my work life. This is the first book on leadership written in a language that I both identify with and can appreciate. It gives me a lot to think about regarding what it means to be a good manager, the importance of good leadership, and ultimately if I can see myself fulfilling such a role.

I would
Viljami Kuosmanen
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mike's Benfold should be the golden standard for all business teams and organisations. An extremely practical guide for anyone wanting to become a better leader. Brilliant read!

Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended by my new mentor as I joined his team at work. He said that this book guides him. I guess that makes me lucky because contained within is great advice! From enabling leadership to ethical behavior, this read is bursting with inspiring insights on how to be effective. It is also a book full of joy for work and life that leaves me feeling excited.

Short read but thoroughly enjoyable.
Justin Hurt
Great book on leadership. Reminds me a lot of Jocko Willink's book Extreme Ownership. ...more
Steve Nabrotzky
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great book about taking responsibility.
Great book on leadership and allowing those who work for you to take responsibility and pride in their work. It has good examples of how to do this too.
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thomas Nassiff
Oct 20, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a recap I wrote about this book when I originally read it back in 2018.

Since I was hired at DIRECTV in May 2015, and since DIRECTV was acquired by AT&T only a few short months after, the company has been through several departmental re-organizations. The running tally amounts to an average of one and a half or two re-orgs per year since I joined the company. But throughout all that shifting, my focus has remained mostly the same -- up until recently, I was responsible for digital content
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D. Michael Abrashoff served for almost twenty years in the U.S. Navy, culminating in a tour of duty as captain of the $1 billion warship USS Benfold. After leaving the navy, he wrote a bestseller about progressive leadership called It’s Your Ship. He now lectures to business audiences around the country.

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