Former Commander, USS BENFOLD & Author, It's Your Ship
Mike Abrashoff is at the center of one of the most remarkable modern day stories of organizational transformation. At the age of 36, the Navy selected Mike to become Commander of USS Benfold. At the time he was the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet – on a ship that was plagued by low morale, high turnover and abysmal performance evaluations. Few thought that the ship could improve – yet 12 months later the ship was ranked #1 in performance – using the same crew. People were amazed and the lesson was clear – leadership matters and culture is everything. Read More >
Achieving Breakthrough Performance
It's Our Ship: Mentors & Role Models Matter
It's Your Ship: Becoming The Best Ship in the U.S. Navy
No Limits Breakthrough Performance: Don't Impose Limits on Yourself
No Limits Breakthrough Performance: Talent Retention
When Mike Abrashoff took command of the USS Benfold, morale was low, turnover was high and the ship’s performance ranked near the bottom of the Pacific Fleet. Just twelve months later the Benfold was ranked #1 – using the very same crew. The lesson was clear – leadership matters and culture is everything. This inspiring talk is for every individual and organization looking for practical and usable ways to take organizational performance to new heights. In Mike’s case, he realized that before the ship’s performance could change, he had to change his leadership style. Mike worked to create a culture of trust and empower his crew to take charge and use ingenuity and initiative to improve every aspect of the way things were done. Top down leadership is dead, so when the crew would present a problem, Mike became famous for responding “What would YOU do? It’s YOUR ship!” Mike’s presentation leaves audiences with the tools and inspiration to accomplish big goals.
For organizations that want to get serious about improving performance, this presentation delivers examples of the Mike’s Leadership Roadmap in action. Mike reveals how the principles that led the transformation of the USS Benfold have been put into action at companies and organizations looking to harness the power of their most important asset – their people. He shows real leaders achieving dramatic results as they work to address their most pressing people challenges: collaboration, commitment, cohesion, accountability, engagement, rapid and continual innovation, safety and diversity in the workforce. In example after example, the lessons from the Benfold clearly translate across all kinds of organizations – corporations, small business, non-profits and government. Mike shows audiences, by example, how to use their new leadership toolkit. “It's Our Ship” goes deep into the how-tos of creating a culture where everyone takes ownership and responsibility for taking performance to the next level.
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. Read More >
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. Read Less ^
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. They’ll learn practical application of principles outlined in the keynote and build a roadmap to achieve the personal and organizational goals they’ve outlined. Take Action sessions are customizable to meet time and resource-sensitive needs and require a minimum of 2 hours. Read More >
The state of healthcare is not unlike the real-life situation Mike faced when he took command of the USS Benfold. The Navy has its own bureaucracy and traditions. Mike was accountable for results but didn’t make the rules. Worse - he could not hire and fire people, give raises or promotions, and had no choice over his missions. With no control over the external forces impacting his ship, Mike vowed to control what he could influence: his own leadership style and the culture on board. Mike has addressed scores of organizations throughout the healthcare ecosystem. They tell him his experience on the Benfold mirrors what they are experiencing every day. The lessons Mike shares about creating the best ship in the Navy transfer directly to their world. That message is, first and foremost: focus on the things you can influence. Mike tailors his message for each audience – focusing on their unique challenges and showing practical ways to create an unprecedented level of accountability and ownership among everyone in the organization. This idea of aligning the human element of an organization is fundamental to improving profitability, safety, innovation, and patient outcomes - creating an organization that functions better than anyone imagined.
"Your message to the team was spot on! I received a lot of feedback and, universally, they felt your message helped them think about leadership differently and help put them even more firmly in the Ownership Mentality. I thought you nailed it and helped 1) land the message of Own It 2) help them focus on their Leadership and 3) Help them think about managing through change. I am so glad that you were our speaker and I think it helped us at this critical point in time."
"Mike was super! He was a great storyteller, funny, and tied the message to our business throughout. It was so relevant to exactly what our org needs right now--leadership at the GM level--and I have received nothing but rave reviews. In fact, several of our vendor suppliers and audience members from other companies have asked me for info about Mike to possibly speak for their organizations. It was awesome!"
"I have received a ton of anecdotal feedback, people bringing up how much they liked you and your speech and message. One thing that came across was that you were very “real” and very down to earth - that is important to our audience. I think your ability to interweave the hospital and healthcare environment into your speech went a long way toward connecting with the audience."
"The feedback was overwhelmingly positive! I personally have never listened to a better speaker. Your message was tailor made for my team and I look forward to discussing future opportunities with you. Thank you so very much Mike."
"The 'day after' is over and the impact is reverberating throughout the organization. I truly appreciate the effort you obviously made to incorporate our issues and to position the call to action for them as leaders of teams. The feedback was clear -- your presentation ranked #1 for most valuable . . . count me a fan."
"Thank you for making sure that your speech ‘connected’. The way you were able to make your points align with the roles of the sales reps/ field trainers was spot-on. I suspect this will not be the end of your relationship with Teva."
"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."
"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!"
"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."