Cross posted from Seth Godin’s Blog:

“I’ve got your back”

These are the words that entrepreneurs, painters, artists, statesmen, customer service pioneers and writers need to hear.

Not true. They don’t need to hear them, they need to feel them.

No artist needs a fair weather friend, an employee or customer or partner who waits to do the calculus before deciding if they’re going to be there for them.

No, if you want her to go all in, if you want her to take the risk and brave the fear, then it sure helps if you’re there too, no matter what. There’s a cost to that, a pain and risk that comes from that sort of trust. After all, it might not work. Failure (or worse! embarrassment) might ensue. That’s precisely why it’s worth so much. Because it’s difficult and scarce.

Later, when it’s all good and it’s all working, your offer of support means very little. The artist never forgets the few who came through when it really mattered.

Who’s got your back? More important, whose back do you have?

Lots of discussion at Sal’s home about “the leadership“…and a significant supposition that conventional wisdom among the rank and file is to not trust anyone over 30 senior to themselves.

Since most of us are senior to someone else, does that corrolary mean that your subordinates don’t trust you?

Could it be that they don’t feel that you have their back?

If so, why?

Do you take the time to explain the logic and thought behind an unpopular decision? Any decision?

Or do you default to “Nike Leadership“? Nike Leadership is directly incompatible with forceful backup. Which one do you think is more present in the Navy?

Who has your back? Who’s back do you have?




Posted by M. Ittleschmerz in Uncategorized


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  • Sam Kotlin

    Horsehockey. Individuals in the Navy have duties, they have jobs, they have a place in the large organization’s mission achievement. These are laid out in Navy regs, the SORM, the orders and direction of higher authority, and – perhaps most importantly – in naval tradition and culture.

    “Got your back” is meaningless and trite. How about just doing your job well and properly, exercising sound leadership effectively and professionally, and leave off the pop-culture angst and silliness about inter-personal dynamics.

    Shipmates, of all ranks, know how to be good shipmates. Be a good shipmate.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Trust is earned by trustworthy behavior.

    Sailors trust leaders whom they observe act judiciously, decisively, and competently; whom they observe are confident, self controlled and courteous to others: whom they observe are careful and bold; whom they observe to be just and merciful; whom they observe do their best to ensure the success, safety, and well being of their subordinates; whom they observe to be brave and to listen respectfully to all.

    Deeds, not words. Acta, non verba.

    One other thing. Nobody bats a thousand. Nobody.

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