In many ways a ship a sea is much like a branch of a real estate office. For a given class of ship all the functions, features and systems are the same, yet performance varies greatly. When Captain Michael Brushoff assumed command of his the USS Benfold DDG-65 it was performing poorly and it was his mission to bring his ship to peak performance.

Captain Brushoff did what leaders do, he acknowledged that the responsibility for improving his crew’s performance rested with him. And he realized that he had to improve himself before he could improve his crew. Leadership is an inside job!

The slogan on board the ship became “It’s Your Ship”!

Secrets to successful leadership lessons that brought the USS Benfold to the top of the fleet:

– See the ship through the eyes of the crew by soliciting suggestions and building solutions to problems from the perspective of the crew.

– Communicate, communicate, communicate. It is difficult to get a ship to its destination of the crew is unaware of where they are going. Every member of your team must understand where you are going and what their role is in getting the team to its destination. So common was the Captains communication with his crew that they affectionately referred to him as “Megaphone Mike”!

– Listen aggressively. To communicate and not listen is to dictate. The most junior person in your organization has a desire to be heard. And sometimes that where the freshest ideas come from.

Its Your Ship was originally published in 2002 and a revised 10th Anniversary Edition was released in 2012. Today Capt. Mike is highly sought after leadership consultant and speaker. His follow on books “It’s Our Ship: The No-Nonsense Guide to Leadership” and “Get Your Ship Together: How Great Leaders Inspire Ownership From the Keel Up” are worthy reads if you enjoy “It’s Your Ship”.

He also has some great article downloads at

Last month’s book review “Extreme Ownership” as well as this month were authored by US Naval Academy brothers and based on lessons learned at sea and in combat. It continues to fascinate me how the leadership lessons learned at Annapolis and beyond have served so many so well in private business.
Charlie “Tremendous” Jones was fond of saying “You are the same today as you will be five years from now except for two things…. The people you meet and the books you read”!

Have we met yet? It would be awesome to sit together in my office over a cup of coffee or tea and share ideas. And it you have a book suggestion I’d enjoy that too! Let me know at 904-268-8211.