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3 ways to buoy up your crew

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

The former USS Benfold commander is a font of advice on leading a self-contained group, gleaned from his early days aboard an “ugly bucket” through his current studies of leadership.

Capt. Michael Abrashoff operates by respecting his staff and taking necessary risks. Here, at random, are three of his approaches to leading:
  1. Leave your eccentric geniuses alone. Admitting that highly gifted people are “different” and often upsetting, Abrashoff points out that not everyone is lucky enough to employ them. His advice: let them do their thing.

    As an example, he points to 1930s college basketball coach Johnny Bunn, who let a player use one-handed jump shots, unheard of at the time. Hank Luisetti’s jumpers changed the game.

  2. See and be seen. Abrashoff climbed all over the Benfold, including four flights down a narrow ladder to the ship’s sewage pump room, where the pump technician constantly battled leaky seals. Every other day, Abrashoff checked on the technician: “I couldn’t do much about his conditions, but I could tell him that he was doing a great job, and we depended on him to keep the ship operating.”

    The technician responded by volunteering, in addition to his job, as a Navy rescue swimmer, another dangerous and grueling job.

  3. Make boring jobs better. When his crew tired of listening to Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” during hamburger lunches, Abrashoff authorized a raffle letting the winner use the CD for target practice. And during refueling by a tanker at night, he allowed music, videos and laser shows. One New Year’s Eve when everyone was stuck on board, he cracked out 100 cases of otherwise forbidden beer for a cookout on a party barge.
— Adapted from It’s Our Ship: The No-Nonsense Guide to Leadership, D. Michael Abrashoff, Business Plus.

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