Michael Abrashoff

Former Navy Commander, USS Benfold

Mike Abrashoff became Commander of USS Benfold at age 36, making him the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet on a ship that was plagued by low morale, high turnover and abysmal performance evaluations. Under his leadership, within 12 months the ship was ranked first in performance, utilizing the same crew.

At the core of Mr. Abrashoff’s leadership approach was a process of replacing command and control with commitment and cohesion, and engaging the hearts, minds and loyalties of workers with conviction and humility. By every measure, these principles achieved breakthrough results: turnover decreased to an unprecedented 1 percent; the rate of promotions tripled; and the crew slashed operating expenses by 25 percent. USS Benfold went on to win the prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest degree of combat readiness.

Prior to commanding USS Benfold, Mr. 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 and served as the executive officer on a ship deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

Mr. Abrashoff’s book, “It’s Your Ship,” explores his leadership principles and has sold more than one million copies. His next books, “It’s Our Ship” and “Get Your Ship Together,” show how these principles have been enacted by business leaders. Mr. Abrashoff is the founder of Aegis Performance Group, a leadership development consulting firm.