Grassroots Leadership For Remarkable Experience

A comment on my blog about Trump’s leadership style referred to the last paragraph in the blog as being, spot on (thanks Liz). That paragraph said, “The power always lies in the people, never leadership. Great leadership supports and optimizes the naturally transformative power of the whole group.”

I read an article recently in Fast Company that talked about grassroots leadership (supporting the power of group) as much more than a political resource to help someone get elected or to build community, and wanted to share it as a specific instance of group possibility in an unexpected environment.

The article demonstrated grassroots leadership to be highly effective even in a very hierarchical organization like the Navy. And it demonstrated how leadership can support and optimize that natural process with remarkable results.

The article was called The Agenda – Grassroots Leadership: Navy Commander D. Michael Abrashoff uses a leadership model that’s as progressive as any in business. 

The article focuses on Commander Abrashoff’s leadership of the crew of the USS Benfold. It talked about the warship as one of the most advanced in the Navy and pointed to the Commander’s impressive service record. It also mentioned the ship’s reputation as the best in the Pacific Fleet.

Abrashoff’s foundation leadership philosophy according to a quote from him in the article is that “. . . innovative practices combined with true empowerment produce phenomenal results.” And his medals and prestigious posts in the military seem to back that up.

A summary of Abrashoff’s style of leadership might be this quote from the article, “The most important thing that a captain can do is to see the ship from the eyes of the crew.” That suggests grassroots leadership and it is a fundamental part of Dreambounded Leadership.

An underlying idea in Dreambounded Leadership is that the value and power of each person in the group has little to do with rank, privilege or intelligence – it has to do with experience and its naturally guiding process. Each member of a team has a unique experience in their role, and as a result has access to the power inherent in that unique experience.

When leadership brings the rich experience of each team member to bear on how things unfold, the group experience becomes remarkable in areas like innovation and discovery, not to mention just plain loving being on the team. The article pointed to the off the charts retention rate of sailors on the ship – “100% of career sailors signed on for an additional tour” (average is 54%).

There are some great ideas and tips in the article that might be useful in your leadership roles – it might be worth taking a moment to read it.

Leave a Reply