The success of any undertaking depends on the level of executors’ interest in the final result and the implementation process in general. The personnel management skill assumes the ability of the manager to inspire subordinates high motivation to perform their tasks. A good leader should also find the way to avoid conflicts within the team and unite people around a common goal. To develop these skills, a manager requires significant experience in the sphere of management or familiarity with the successful experience of other professionals, which can be useful in their organization. The idea of this paper is to consider the unique experience of Captain D. Michael Abrashoff in the area of personnel management. Though Michael Abrashoff is a specialist in paramilitary management, which is a deeply specific organization, his extensive professional background turned out to be very useful in civilian areas of knowledge of personnel management. In this article the author shall discuss the possible application of principles, which he has developed, to medicine practice.
The central leadership concepts of Captain D. Michael Abrashoff
In the book It’s Our Ship: The No-Nonsense Guide to Leadership Captain D. Michael Abrashoff introduces the reader to his skills in the service of the naval forces of the United States, ranging from service and a junior officer to the captain of the guided-missile destroyer. Michael Abrashoff describes problems and disadvantages of subordinates’ control, which he had to face during the service on the frigate Albert David. The ship was a total opposite to what he considered as an efficient personnel administration. Michael Abrashoff said about the captain of the ship and the crew that “the tension on the ship was palpable, and I had to live in that charged, uncle-producing climate for twenty-seven months” (Abrashoff, 2008). The basic issue of the relationship between the captain and the crew, as for the author, was a complete loss of all enthusiasm among employees, which caused only one desire among members of the team - as soon as possible to leave the place of service.
Michael Abrashoff’s intention was to make his ship one of the best ships in the Navy. According to this objective, he had developed principles of staff relationship’ building, which guarantee success not only in the naval field but also in business. The major cornerstones of his management methodology are the adjustment of personnel’ motivation level, the evaluation of executors’ initiative and the development of the necessary leadership qualities of the head.
Captain Abrashoff highlights the adaptation of fresh employees to new working conditions as one of the key leadership concepts in his work. For him (2008) “getting people started off on the right foot and keeping them striding confidently forward is crucial to any successful venture”. A new collaborator must feel comfortable in the newly established environment since the moment he begins his work, which not only increases his enthusiasm levels, but also promotes early involvement in the community and improves the effectiveness of his work. The leader must show participation in the fate of a new worker, help him/her enter the essence of the work. For a beginner, the explanation of his duties at the beginning of cooperation increases his confidence in the ability to achieve the desired result. In this aspect of personnel control, Michael Abrashoff also provides the idea of employees mutual to accelerate the development process of newcomers. He even compares the relations of the newcomers and experienced executors, as the relations between parents and children. As he said “treat your people and your shipmates the way you would want your spouse or child treated in the workplace” (Abrashoff, 2008).
By the time the assimilation period of the new worker is over, the deeper improvement of his professional skills gains much importance. For this case, Captain Abrashoff developed yet another leadership concept, which can help employees reach for the stars themselves. The author advices the leader of a company to share the responsibility for decision-making, inspiring collaborators for deeper immersion in his work and creating conditions for the worker to improve his professional experience. In this aspect of personnel management, the training process can become not only the tool of worker’s professional skills improvement but also the confidence building tool. Michael Abrashoff also advices the manager to develop respect for even the lowliest jobs among the workers and to create the conditions under which each collaborator will be able to feel himself/herself involved in the success of the company as a whole.
From the viewpoint of efficient implementation of the business, it is very important to provide relevant, truthful information about the state of affairs in the enterprise. Sometimes it seems easier for the executor to transmit false information regarding the situation, so as not to upset the boss. However, once it becomes it is harmful for the business, a manager should take measures which would encourage truth-telling among the personnel. It is usually better to acknowledge the problem and begin to deal with it, then to ignore it until recently, and face the dire consequences. According to this task, Michael Abrashoff developed the leadeship concept, which is to encourage truth-telling among personnel by the example of the leader, the understanding of the importance of addressing problems at an early stage of their occurrence. Captain Abrashoff also finds it wise for the leader to behave diplomatically against employees, which eliminates fear in the personnel about the recognition of problems in the subordinate structures.
To make subordinates’ work more efficient, it is usually not enough to assimilate him/her with the workplace and let him/her understand the importance of his work. The wise leader must be able to use the informal means of uniting the staff. The personnel should feel themselves as the team with one goal, which excludes dangerous competition. Though competition among the subordinates can sometimes be useful, improving their results, but the destructive power of this phenomenon is too high to use it as a major incentive and motivation to work. c advises the leader to develop the methodology of personnel’ collaboration, which includes “discouraging mindless rivalry, making collaboration a top priority, … doing whatever you can to make the job fun” (Abrashoff, 2008).
It is usually difficult to understand what the real, productive leader should be like. The diversity of the points of view on the essence of leadership has created confusion in the understanding of the leadership characteristics. Each specialist provides his unique definition of a leader, and the consensus is far from being reached with regards to this concept. According to the common opinion, a leader should call a sense of respect and affection, to a certain extent, among his subordinates. In which way should he reach such results? The contradiction lies in the fact that the manager has to be at the same time demanding and responsive to the needs of subordinates. Michael Abrashoff expresses the view that the leader should develop the climate of trust at the enterprise. Abrashoff (2008) also advises to show people that you put them and their interests first, keep the promises or explain why you can’t, treat subordinates with respect and delegate them authority. According to the Captain, the best leader is the one who can ignore his own interests to reach for the enterprise’ goal and give such example to the personnel. If the collaborator feels respect towards his boss and understands that the leader puts the interests of the team above his own, he will have the additional motivation for better work and more significant result. In this way a chief breaks barriers between him and the executors and provides the conditions for deeper collaboration around the idea of company’s well-being.
As we can see, Michael Abrashoff provides the versatile personnel management methodology, which is quite universal and can be relevant in different areas. The comparison of his experience with the modern discoveries in the management can be useful. The possibility of using his developments in the field of medicine is also worth discussion.
The Connection of Michael Abrashoff Ideas with Modern Trends in the Science of Management
The leadership concepts of Captain Abrashoff have shown their usefulness in military and commercial organizations. However, in order to further evaluate the relevance and importance of this methodology, the comparison with modern ideas in personnel management can be useful. To this end, the two articles, which describe contemporary trends in management, need consideration: “Concepts of Effective Management Through Leadership” by Leo Sun (2013) and “11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader” by Dave Kerpen (2013). They discuss the modern state of the development of management science and give their opinion about the perspectives of this field of knowledge.
The basic leadership concepts, as discussed in the article of Leo Sun (2013), are the idea of leading by example, which was also discussed in the Michael Abrashoff’s book. From this point of view, these two researchers have the same opinion. The concept of positive reinforcement, from the perspective of Leo Sun, is also very similar to the Abrashoff’s idea of informal relations between collaborators. Leo Sun (2013) also developed the principle that leader must be flawlessly consistent and fire the not appropriate employees publicly. He said “when you set the rules, they can’t be broken. Punishing your favorite employees or yourself for rule violations sends a loud, clear message – no one is exempt, and the rules are final” (Sun, 2013). Considering these ideas, the observer can find them very similar to the Abrashoff’s idea of relations with staff, based on the principles of integrity and transparency. As soon as Abrashoff advises a leader to explain all his decisions to the subordinaries and keep them in the same conditions of fair relations, his ideas are close enough to the earnings of Leo Sun. In this way, the Abrashoff’s concepts are confirmed by the experience of others in the field of management studies.
Dave Kerpen (2013) provides eleven simple principles of effective management, which define the qualities of contemporary leader, necessary to reach success in business. They are the ability to listen and inspire your employees, ability to act as a team, adapt to the changing conditions, be responsible about your decisions, be transparent and authenticable, havve passion to his work, be simple and grateful person. One of Kerpen’s main ideas is the principle of treatment with others – “above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated” (Kerpen, 2013). As one can see, these concepts also have much in similar to the principles of Michael Abrashoff.
The Application of Captain D. Michael Abrashoff
Management Principles in Medical Practice
The Abrashoff’s ideas of personnel management have already proved their effectiveness for the operations of commercial and military organizations. But how can a leader use them in the nursing field to achieve significant results of his subordinates’ work? Is there a possibility to adapt the author’s ideas to the conditions of the healthcare industry? To answer these questions, we should first discuss the specific characteristics of the healthcare. One of the main characteristics of the nursing practice is the need to work not only with subordinate employees but also with people who are sick. Such a consequence determines the personal qualities, which every leader should have. A leader must be able to make contact with the patient from the beginning, to inspire and convince him/her of the inevitability of recovery. To a certain extent, he/she should be able to control patient, helping the inmate move towards the recovery. It usually becomes a difficult task if the patient despairs and loses the will to fight the disease. In this case, the leadership concepts of Michael Abrashoff turn out to be quite a useful tool of patients’ management.
From the outset, a physician can inspire the patient during healing process. A doctor can use Abrashoff’s (2008) advises to help the inmate feel comfortable in a hospital and make him/her assimilate with the healing conditions. A doctor should also take participation in the patient’s fate. He/she must put the treated person’s interests first. The application of Abrashoff’s (2008) concept of paternal relationship with subordinates can be transferred also to the patients. The leader should make his personnel to ensure patients with all the needed help.
During the healing process, a doctor can accelerate the process of treatment by encouraging the patient’s activity in the fight against the disease. A physician should explain the principle and the procedure for the treatment to the patient, answer all the questions, which come from the sick person and provide all the appropriate information about the patient's condition and course of treatment. The important part in the relations between the physician and the patient belongs to informal communication. In this case, it is easier for a sick person to establish communication with the doctor, which is of a key importance in the course of treatment.
Since we have discussed the specifics of patients’ management, the consideration of the hospital’ personal control remains relevant. Can the Abrashoff’s leadership concept be useful annexed to the hospital staff? Most of the considered personnel’ management principles are relevant for medical personal. Such a fact shows that the Abrashoff’s methodology is significantly universal and based on the research of human relations and behavior of the individual in the workforce. For medical personnel, a manager can easily resort to the method of subordinaries’ assimilation at the beginning of working process, which was described in the first part of this essay. Sharing responsibility is also a useful tool for personnel’ control, which gives sub ordinaries motivation to improve their results and professional experience. Such an attitude towards the workers helps them to achieve confidence in their possibilities and enthusiasm for further work.
It is also obvious that a leader in the medical institution should become an example for others as given in the Abrashoff’s methodology. He/she should also encourage truth-telling, which is extremely important in the case of nursing, where the cost of an error can be a human life. The leader should also develop strong collaboration among the medical personnel, uniting it around the only target – to save human lives.
There are many opportunities for application of Michael Abrashoff’s developments in the medical institutions. Though the specific of Navy and medical institutions are quite different, there are the same laws of personal motivation, which determine the possibility to resort to the discussed method under conditions of nursing. We can even say that almost all the ideas of Captain Abrashoff can be efficient for the medical specialist, who decides to improve his leadership qualities to achieve better results.
The leadership concepts of Michael Abrashoff made a significant contribution to the development of management theory. The universality of Abrashoff’s findings allows using his ideas in different areas of human activity. The similarity of his principles to the ideas of other researchers in the question of leadership leads to thoughts about the modernity and the importance of his proposed approach. The variety of possibilities to use Abrashoff’s concepts in medical institutions provides new management tool for medical personnel, which increases the efficiency of nursing practices.