Category Archives: leadership

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Co-creating our difference (continued)

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Since people often ask me for specifics about how to co-create, with their teams, stories of “how and why we do things differently”, this week I offer an illustrative anecdote from the Benfold.   When Captain Abrashoff took over command of the ship, he began by interviewing members of the crew in his quarters, to get to know each one of them. He asked broad questions about where they were from, why they joined the navy, and where they wanted to go in life. In addition, though, the commander wanted to know specifically what they thought were the most gratifying aspects of life on the Benfold, and the most frustrating.  From his numerous conversations, Abrashoff … Continue reading

Co-creating our difference

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Several weeks ago, I wrote that I saw Captain Abrashoff’s leadership journey on the Benfold as an inspiration to all managers, especially those “stuck in the middle”.   Indeed, a ship’s commander can be seen as a middle manager in the vast system that is the US Navy. One of the elements I like most in the example of Abrashoff is that he truly took on the task of building his own culture, of making his “little 300-person piece of society” a place of excellence.  My experience working in and consulting for organizations has convinced me that managers at all hierarchical levels often have more freedom—and more influence—than they realize. In my leadership seminars and with … Continue reading

Why “we” are different

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One of my favorite quotes about leadership is from Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn. When asked what distinguishes a great leader from the good ones, Ghosn replied simply: “A good leader brings results. A great leader writes a new story.”  As one who has spent the past two decades studying the impact of story on leaders and groups, I agree wholeheartedly with Ghosn’s premise, and I even like to take it a bit further. To me, the most effective leaders co-create stories of collective identity with their followers, stories that inspire the team and infuse its work with meaning.  So, let’s go back and use the lens of organizational storytelling on our … Continue reading

Engagement is job one for any manager

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As we saw in the closing paragraph from last time, Captain Abrashoff’s engagement of his ship’s crew led to truly superior combat-readiness ratings. In the end, the Benfold would become regarded as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, winning the Navy’s prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest degree of combat readiness.   In addition, the rate of military promotions tripled on the Benfold during Abrashoff’s watch. Personnel turnover, which had been at unacceptable levels under the previous leadership, decreased to an unprecedented one percent.  When engagement levels rise, everything improves: The Benfold is an outstanding example, one that demonstrates why I think engagement is job one for any manager. The ship’s all-important combat readiness ratings rose not due to stricter management controls … Continue reading

Relationships with individuals are the key to leading groups

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After last week’s post, I received a number of requests—from both readers and clients—asking my advice about how managers should go about cultivating deep relationships with their individual team members.   As such, I began thinking that it would be a good idea to discuss some other examples in the coming weeks, illustrations of how leaders and managers in a variety of fields—the arts, sports, and business, and perhaps even others—rely on deep connections with individuals to elicit extraordinary group performance.  In addition, I went back to my notes on Abrashoff’s book, It’s Your Ship, and re-read some of the passages I found particularly pertinent to this question. And, the more I reflected on … Continue reading

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Page 1 of 26123...Last »