Leadership and Teamwork from a Naval Commander | Captain Michael Abrashoff | Purse Power


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Ep. 233 - Captain Michael Abrashoff is a naval commander, NY Times best-selling author, leadership and teamwork expert, and keynote speaker. He became Commander of USS Benfold and was the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific fleet at just 36 years. He has worked with over 1200 organizations instilling leadership initiatives at every level since leaving the navy. In this episode, Michael talks about the leadership lessons he learned in the navy and how to apply them. Listen in to learn the importance of leading with humility to encourage unity and high performance within an organization. You will also learn why treating your employees fairly and with dignity will drive them to become your greatest ambassadors when it comes to recruiting.

Key Takeaways:

  • The importance of connecting with your employees for them to feel responsible and accountable for the results
  • The power of social media and your current employees in recruiting
  • How to lead with a sense of humility to get your organization to higher performance
  • Learn to be adaptable and make the rules work for you and your team
  • Give your employees a voice and accountability for them to take ownership of the results

"There’s no such thing as a born leader, it is a lifelong pursuit; the key is to have the self-awareness and understanding of how we’re being perceived by the people we’re trying to influence.” – Captain Michael Abrashoff

In this episode you’ll discover:

He explains his journey to writing his first book It’s Your Ship [3:33]

Michael’s experience growing up and working with women plus giving them prominent roles [6:39]

Why we need to empower and give control to employees to stop the great resignation [10:03]

Why your current employees are your greatest ambassadors when it comes to recruitment [13:18]

Tips on how to treat your employees to have a high performing organization [18:41]

Be an empathetic leader who understands individuals and how they’re impacted by Covid [21:24]

Michael explains how to unite people and promote diversity and inclusion as a leader [24:18]

How to communicate unity and connect with your team to come up with better policies [32:44]

He explains how he learned to make rules adaptable for his team as a ship commander [35:06]

How he creates employees who accept accountability and take ownership for the results [40:19]

How to ensure productivity during the work from home era while giving people personal time [45:19]

Michael explains the one thing he would have changed in his career as a commander [51:08]

How to lead with humility and encourage unity in your organization [50:02]

He shares his final thoughts and the top 2 things he hopes you take out of the interview [51:34]


Mike Abrashoff is at the center of one of the most remarkable modern day stories of organizational transformation.

At 36, he was selected to be Commander of USS Benfold and was the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific fleet.   The challenges of this underachieving destroyer were staggering, with low morale and the highest turnover rate in the Navy.  Few thought the ship could improve. Yet 12 months later it was ranked #1 in performance -- using the same crew.  How did Mike do it?  By replacing command and control leadership with commitment and cohesion. The lesson was clear:  Leadership matters and culture is everything.

Mike Abrashoff is a co-founder of the Aegis Performance Group with Stacey Cunningham. Mike is the former Navy captain whose grassroots leadership principles turned one of the worst ships in the Pacific Fleet into the best ship in just 12 months using the same crew. One of the most powerful stories of leadership success and organizational transformation, it’s been highlighted in Fast Company, The Harvard Business Review and other respected journals and magazines.

Since leaving the Navy, Mike has worked with over 1200 organizations instilling leadership initiatives at every level – achieving phenomenal change in unexpected places.  Leaders especially identify with Mike being accountable for results in an environment where he couldn’t make the rules.  He focused on the one thing he could influence: his crew’s attitude, because culture is the ultimate competitive weapon for any organization.  That’s why Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and others have cited Mike’s story.  It’s also why Mike is so popular with such a wide range of audiences.

As a keynote speaker, Mike has spoken to every industry and kind of audience – from board retreats to front line personnel, from sales groups to universities, from Fortune 500s to startups.  He tailors his message to focus on engagement, execution, change, safety, diversity, leadership, teamwork, innovation, accountability and more.




Donna Miller is the founder and CEO of Purse Power, Let's Share the Journey. Purse Power promotes women-led, women-owned businesses by providing a Google extension that allows everyone who visits your website to locate nearby businesses.

Let's Share the Journey holds calls at 10 AM Central every Friday to learn from national leaders to share expertise, ideas, and support. One week a month features Zoom Room networking. We support Donna's endeavor and have provided the speaker calls in a podcast format. Please join her on Friday mornings! You can register for the calls here.

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