Difficult Conversations Podcast

Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician

Episode 127 | January 19, 2021

Leading Your Ship To Success

Captain Mike Abrashoff

Former Naval Commander and a Leadership and Teamwork Expert

Mike Abrashoff

Welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Today, I’m fortunate to have another amazing guest. Captain Mike Abrashoff is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense, William J. Perry. At thirty-six years old, Mike was the most junior officer in the Pacific Fleet when he took command of the near-worst performing ship, and twelve months later the USS Benfold was the best ship in the entire Navy. He established a set of management principles he calls the Leadership Roadmap. Mike is the author of three books. His first book It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller, and his other two books, showed how Mike’s leadership principles have been put into action by organizations everywhere. Mike is a highly sought after keynote speaker for audiences to ramp up organizational performances.

Mike tells us about his background, and the events that led up to his command of the USS Benfold. Even though things weren’t always successful for Mike, one thing that came out in his book is, “Every time things didn’t work out perfectly for him, he learned from his mistakes.” Dr. Orsini talks about how we can learn so much by watching people who are good at what they do and about how being a genuine person builds trust. Mike tells us about how he started by interviewing and getting to personally know every sailor on his ship which enabled him to connect with them. We hear an amazing story about a sailor and the rusty bolts. We learn about the most four powerful words in the English language that he said to his sailors, “What do you think?” Mike talks about getting over his own self-confidence and becoming more confident as a leader. He shares his advice on establishing trust if you’re in a leadership position. He tells us about having a disciplined process to get employees to want to stay, and Dr. Orsini makes a point to say, “Communication is a return on investment.” If you have to have a difficult conversation with your boss, Mike gives advice on how to start that conversation. We end with Mike telling us the most difficult conversation he’s ever had to have.

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