Updated: Sep 26
In Episode 132 of Soul Sister Conversations podcast, I interviewed Captain Michael Abrashoff about becoming an exceptional leader.” And this man knows exceptional leadership. He commanded the USS Benfold which was one of the worst ranked ships in the U.S. Navy. He made it #1.
Our conversation was centered around his NY Times bestselling book, It’s Your Ship where he documented his leadership journey. (Highly recommend this read, by the way.)
The first question I posed to him was how he defined leadership.
Capt. Abrashoff answered by describing what he witnessed at the leaving ceremony of his predecessor where the command of the ship was transferred. Customarily, the entire crew stands on deck to send off the exiting commander.
Capt. Abrashoff vividly remembers witnessing the humiliating send off his predecessor endured (with his family) as the crew of the ship cheered loudly...happy that he was leaving! It was blatant disrespect, of course, but the crew did not hold back on expressing how they felt about his exit.
Capt. Abrashoff says he didn’t want that to happen to him as Commander.
After witnessing his predecessor's send off, his first thought was “What do I have to do to keep this from happening to me in two years when I leave the ship?”
And his second thought was “I am not here to be liked, but I can’t do this job on my own and I need a lot of help. I realized in that moment I had to become a leader.”
Here is the leadership test Capt. Abrashoff says you can take to determine if you are leading well or not.
He says it boils down to this question: “Would you want your wife or husband, son or daughter, come see you in action every day?
“If you would be proud, you are on the right track. If you would be embarrassed, fix it.”
This is a small test any of us can take.
At work? If your loved ones witnessed you in action, would they be proud of how you show up at work either as a leader or as a team member?
At home? Your loved ones do witness you in action at home. Would you say your loved ones are proud or embarrassed by how you show up in life?
This is a simple test, but it reveals a lot.
Consider this? If you were exiting your position at work, would people be cheering that you are leaving or sad to see you go?
Coaching Question: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being very proud), how proud are you of how you lead? What, if anything, do you need to change?
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