S1E22 It’s Your Ship

S1E22 It’s Your Ship

When others chart a course for success we can benefit from the maps they create through their journey

CEOs tend to be pretty efficient with their time. They also try to make time for their employees. Striking a balance between efficiency and availability isn’t easy. I’m so many layers down the chain I haven’t had enough time to observe just quite how that layer of leadership pulls it off, but I do know I had a few moments with our CEO a few months ago that helped inspire this post.

After 20 years in the military I’m pretty used to hierarchies. The current company I work for has leaders that are significantly more approachable, but I’m wired to see the layers between. I’m also wired to know if if the layers are aligned the results can be tremendous.

So our CEO’s responsible for 13,000 employees. I’m not. And we don’t have a whole lot of run ins. So how could he share his expectations without giving me a disproportionate amount of his time? The answer was first, listening and then thoughtfully recommending some next steps.

He shared a book recommendation. Actually, he shared two. The first one was Red Notice and he said once I started it I wouldn’t be able to put it down. He was right. That book is a true story and a great read! The second book he recommended was It’s Your Ship which I didn’t put as a top priority to read and wish that I had. This book is excellent.

Released in 2007 this book is written by D. Michael Abrashoff a former Navy officer and captain of the USS Benfold. 2007 was a pivotal year in the world as the iPhone was launched and completely changed the way we communicate as a species. This book was written leveraging timeless experiences that happened before the global communications revolution.

The world is a smaller place thanks to our digital revolution. While the world may feel smaller the principles that underpin how it works haven’t changed much. I bring this up because the anecdotes in this book might feel a bit dated as a pre-smart-phone piece on leadership. Thankfully that author focuses mostly on principles that can be applied with or without the use of technology.

Each of the chapters in the book illustrates a different principle that can be applied regardless of the level of role we have in our organizations. I’m going to run through each of these with my own impressions and notes attached. For the full version I’m going to recommend you pick up the book. You won’t regret it.

  • TAKE COMMAND
    • Identify the potential of your situation and own where it is and where it could be.
  • LEAD BY EXAMPLE
    • If you’re a part of the team then you have partial responsibility for the outcome of the team. If you’re in charge of the team, then your example Has a greater impact. Look inward. The problem might be you. Work on yourself and let others see it.
  • LISTEN AGGRESSIVELY
    • The most likely case is that everyone on the team wants the team to succeed. Listening to the opportunities that others see will help you achieve your team’s potential.
  • COMMUNICATE PURPOSE AND MEANING
    • People put more effort into things that make a difference. Even the best people need to be reminded of the purpose and meaning of their actions. You do as well.
  • CREATE A CLIMATE OF TRUST
    • Without trust as a foundation even the greatest buildings fall.
  • LOOK FOR RESULTS, NOT SALUTES
    • Focus on results, not fluff. Make your measurements meaningful. Whenever possible connect the people who deliver the results to the people who create the measurements.
  • TAKE CALCULATED RISKS
    • We don’t move forward without an element of risk. Managing risk is a muscle that individuals and teams need to exercise in order to become proficient. One way to use this muscle is to trust the people on your team to think for themselves.
  • GO BEYOND STANDARD PROCEDURE
    • Standard procedures rarely lead to extraordinary results. If your situation demands extraordinary look to build on the existing standards.
  • BUILD UP YOUR PEOPLE
    • Leaders strengthen others.
  • GENERATE UNITY
    • Forget diversity and train for unity
  • IMPROVE YOUR PEOPLE’S QUALITY OF LIFE
    • Quality of life improvements can multiply the productivity and unity of a team. Investments in improving the quality of life are investments in productivity.

Those are my take aways from reading the book. I’m looking forward to hearing what your takeaways are from reading it in the comments section. If you want to help the show we’ve got a link to the book on Amazon that gives us a percentage of your purchase without costing you a dime more at the till.

There’s a lot of good in the world. Remember you can choose to be anything. Why not choose to be grateful?


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