Mike Abrashoff

  • Commander of USS Benfold
  • Founder of Management Technique, "The Leadership Roadmap"
  • Author of New York Times Best Seller It&r

At the age of 36, the Navy selected Mike Abrashoff to become Commander of USS Benfold - at the time, the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet. The immediate challenges that faced him on this underperforming Naval war ship were staggering: exceptionally low morale, high turnover and unacceptably low performance evaluations. Few thought that this ship could improve. In many ways, the USS Benfold was actually an extreme example of the same problems facing many organizations today.

The solution was to establish a system of management techniques that Abrashoff calls The Leadership Roadmap. At the core of his leadership approach on Benfold was a process of replacing command and control with commitment and cohesion, and by engaging the hearts, minds, and loyalties of workers - with conviction and humility. "The most important thing that a captain can do is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew." According to Abrashoff, The Leadership Roadmap is a practice that empowers every individual to share the responsibility of achieving excellence. "It's your ship," he was known to say. His former sailors to this day still remind him of it.

By every measure, these principles were able to achieve breakthrough results. Personnel turnover decreased to an unprecedented 1 percent. The rate of military promotions tripled, and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25 percent. Regarded as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, Benfold won the prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest degree of combat readiness. Most important – this transformation took place with the same crew. What had changed was the ship’s culture and Abrashoff’s leadership style.

Mike Abrashoff recounted the leadership lessons from the turnaround of USS Benfold in It's Your Ship, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, with over 800,000 copies sold to date. This extraordinary interest in Abrashoff’s leadership journey and Benfold’s organizational lessons led to two follow-up books – Get Your Ship Together and It’s Our Ship. Those books took readers deeper into ways these principles have been put into action by business leaders in their own organizations.

Prior to commanding USS Benfold, Abrashoff served as the Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. He also helped draft the air defense plan for naval forces in the Persian Gulf in 1990, coinciding with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; and served as the Executive Officer of the Cruiser Shiloh, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

Mike Abrashoff is the founder of GLS Worldwide, a consulting firm which works with and supports leaders as they address leadership, talent and business challenges within their organization. The firm challenges leaders at all levels to re-imagine their leadership thinking and create new ways to elevate individual, team and organizational performance.

To book Leadership Speaker Mike Abrashoff, call Executive Speakers Bureau at 901-754-9404.

See Below for Full Bio

  • Speaking Topics:

    Attitude, Business Culture, Business Motivational, Business Performance, Business Speakers, CEO's, Change, Creativity & Innovation, Diversity, Employee Engagement, Employee Retention, Human Resources, Innovation, Inspiration, Keynote, Leadership, Management, Military, Motivation, Overcoming Adversity, Peak Performance, Personal Growth, Safety, Teambuilding

  • Travels From:

    Florida

  • Price:

    $20,000 - $30,000

    Notes on Fees

  • Videos
  • Full Bio
  • Speech Topics
  • Books
  • Testimonials
  • News

Mike Abrashoff - No Limits - It Starts with a Winning Attitude

Mike Abrashoff - It’s Your Ship: The Power of Servant Leadership

Mike Abrashoff- It’s Our Ship: How a Small Business Applied Mike’s Ideas

Mike Abrashoff: Becoming The Best Ship in the U.S. Navy

Mike Abrashoff: How Leaders Build Trust

Mike Abrashoff — Demo

At the age of 36, the Navy selected Mike Abrashoff to become Commander of USS Benfold - at the time, the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet. The immediate challenges that faced him on this underperforming Naval war ship were staggering: exceptionally low morale, high turnover and unacceptably low performance evaluations. Few thought that this ship could improve. In many ways, the USS Benfold was actually an extreme example of the same problems facing many organizations today.

The solution was to establish a system of management techniques that Abrashoff calls The Leadership Roadmap. At the core of his leadership approach on Benfold was a process of replacing command and control with commitment and cohesion, and by engaging the hearts, minds, and loyalties of workers - with conviction and humility. "The most important thing that a captain can do is to see the ship through the eyes of the crew." According to Abrashoff, The Leadership Roadmap is a practice that empowers every individual to share the responsibility of achieving excellence. "It's your ship," he was known to say. His former sailors to this day still remind him of it.

By every measure, these principles were able to achieve breakthrough results. Personnel turnover decreased to an unprecedented 1 percent. The rate of military promotions tripled, and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25 percent. Regarded as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, Benfold won the prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest degree of combat readiness. Most important – this transformation took place with the same crew. What had changed was the ship’s culture and Abrashoff’s leadership style.

Mike Abrashoff recounted the leadership lessons from the turnaround of USS Benfold in It's Your Ship, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, with over 800,000 copies sold to date. This extraordinary interest in Abrashoff’s leadership journey and Benfold’s organizational lessons led to two follow-up books – Get Your Ship Together and It’s Our Ship. Those books took readers deeper into ways these principles have been put into action by business leaders in their own organizations.

Prior to commanding USS Benfold, Abrashoff served as the Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. He also helped draft the air defense plan for naval forces in the Persian Gulf in 1990, coinciding with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; and served as the Executive Officer of the Cruiser Shiloh, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

Mike Abrashoff is the founder of GLS Worldwide, a consulting firm which works with and supports leaders as they address leadership, talent and business challenges within their organization. The firm challenges leaders at all levels to re-imagine their leadership thinking and create new ways to elevate individual, team and organizational performance.

To book Leadership Speaker Mike Abrashoff, call Executive Speakers Bureau at 901-754-9404.

NO LIMITS:  Unleashing Breakthrough Performance
Sometimes in our professional lives we believe we are in a battle to beat an adversary or a competitor when in actuality, we are in competition with ourselves but just haven't figured it out yet. When battling the competition, you want to come out on top, if only by one more sale or maybe a few percentage points. Sometimes, someone at a higher level gives you a goal based on some median expectation set for others. When Mike Abrashoff took command of a well below-average ship in the U.S. Navy, his goal was to get to average. He initially set average goals and expectations for himself and his crew until one day it struck him: his ship could be better than average.  Mike's eureka moment was realizing they weren't in competition with anyone but themselves to be their best. They had to stop putting limits on what they believed was possible. That realization changed Mike Abrashoff's approach to leadership and led the same crew to accomplish one of the most remarkable turnarounds that was chronicled in the Harvard Business Review, Fast Company magazine and his New York Times' and Wall Street Journal bestselling book, IT'S YOUR SHIP.  Many of Mike's former crew members have gone on to accomplish great things in their careers.  They write to tell him their stories.  One of Mike's sailors just ran for city council of one of the largest cities in the U.S. and he wrote Mike to say, "you gave us the inspiration and confidence to know that there are no limits." This presentation will challenge you to think differently on how to set expectations while realizing the only limits that you have are self-imposed.

It's Your Ship - Achieving Breakthrough Performance
This inspiring talk is based on the vital leadership lessons Abrashoff learned as he led the remarkable turnaround of USS Benfold and her crew. The first lesson: before the ship's performance could improve, his own leadership style had to change. His credo: "What would YOU do?  It's YOUR ship!", created a high performance culture and empowered his crew to take charge and use ingenuity and initiative to improve the way things were done. Abrashoff leaves audiences with the same tools and inspiration to lead differently and elevate organizational performance to new levels.

It's Our Ship - Putting the Leadership Roadmap to Work
For organizations who want a deeper understanding of grassroots leadership and want to take those principles to the next level, Mike Abrashoff addresses the challenges most on the minds of leaders in these challenging times.  This speech is about creating a high performance culture where everyone takes ownership and responsibility using real lessons from the business world and focus on innovation, accountability and engagement.


Take Action Breakout Session
Meant to deepen the learning from Mike Abrashoff's keynote talk, Take Action sessions provide attendees with additional powerful tools and strategies to apply in their work environment. Facilitated by a senior strategist from Abrashoff's firm, GLS Worldwide, and taking place immediately following the keynote, Take Action sessions create an exciting atmosphere that examines the key components of high performing leaders, teams and organizations. Participants will experience innovative, fast-paced individual and group exercises tailored to the leadership and cultural issues most relevant to the organization.

Strategy Manager, MedAmerica

"Mike did an amazing job as our keynote speaker!! He spoke for over an hour, without slides or note cards, and captivated the audience with his stories. Received a standing ovation at the end. Can’t say enough good things about him!"

CEO, Wireless Zone

“You gave a memorable and enjoyable keynote speech that was enjoyed by all. Thank you for making our owners understand that they are the captains of their own destiny and that they need to take all action needed to succeed. You did a great job setting the tone for the rest of the convention.”

Facilities Manager, URS

“Mike Abrashoff’s address to our group in Denver was spot-on. It was quite evident that he had worked to include information regarding our company, our markets and in particular, our Project Managers Forum objectives and attendee backgrounds into the content of his presentation. Several people commented to me that they found his story inspiring and relevant. As I mentioned earlier, this was the third time I heard Mike tell his story. It seems that each time I pull something more from the information he shares.”

National Association of Chain Drug Stores

“Any audience that cares about leadership, culture, change management, performance and teamwork would benefit immensely from your presentation. Our group enjoyed not only your message, but also your presentation style. Needless to say, you received very high ratings in our post-conference survey.”

Denbury Resources

“We have never had such positive feedback - you very much exceeded our expectations. You were quoted numerous times throughout the remainder of the conference which says people took your message to heart and will put it to work in their everyday jobs – exactly what we aimed for!”

Two Leadership Case Studies — How Do You Show Up?
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

One of the mental exercises I often put myself through is to look at current events from a leadership perspective and continue my lifelong pursuit of self-improvement. There are two cases that fascinate and stand out for me. One is the Captain of the Italian Cruise Liner, the Costa Concordia, the ship that ran aground and sank two years ago and the other fascinating case study is Pope Francis.

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