Stacey C. Cunningham
Stepping into the realm of impactful leadership requires courage and a willingness to venture beyond the confines of comfort. As you embark on this journey, the rewards will far outweigh any initial resistance encountered. By gaining the trust and commitment of your 'crew' you will witness their remarkable growth and performance. Let’s delve into the fascinating insights of Captain Mike Abrashoff, a true leader who mastered the art of empowerment.
By understanding the crew's perspective, Mike Abrashoff's exceptional leadership prowess sprang from his ability to walk in his crew's shoes. Through insightful interviews, he discovered the core desires of his 'crew':
Armed with these profound insights, Abrashoff realized that empowering his sailors was the key to enhancing the ship's performance. However, this approach did not entail granting unrestricted autonomy. Rather, it involved empowering individuals to make decisions within their authority to drive overall team improvement. As he famously said,
"And the more responsibility they were given, the more they learned" (ch.1).
Establishing empowerment guidelines ensured that each crew member felt appropriately authorized, Abrashoff understood the importance of setting clear guidelines. Safety, fiscal responsibility, and the integrity of the ship were his 'lines in the sand' that demanded his consultation. After all, the lives and well-being of the crew were his ultimate responsibility.
Similarly, working within the rules and operating procedures yourself is crucial as a leader. Upholding the authority and support of your superiors sends a powerful message to your 'crew' fostering a culture of mutual respect and collaboration. Abrashoff emphasized this point:
"In any organization, your people need to know that you support your chain of command. If they see you freelancing, they will feel free not to support you when they disagree with your policies" (ch.3).
Every individual, from superiors to crew members, plays a vital role in leadership. When each person is empowered to perform their duties to the best of their abilities, the entire team thrives. Safety is upheld, costs are controlled, and productivity soars.
Consider the conditions under which you want your crew to feel empowered to act autonomously.
o Define your personal 'lines in the sand' – the critical decision-making thresholds that require consultation. By forming these boundaries, you maintain control, protect the interests of the team, and ensure accountability for any potential consequences.
As you venture into the realm of empowering leadership, remember that sailing outside your safe harbor is a prerequisite for transformation. By understanding the crew's perspective, defining empowerment guidelines, and upholding your role within the organizational hierarchy, you pave the way for excellence. You and your crew will embark on a remarkable journey toward achieving shared goals while creating a culture of trust, growth, and success.