I Have Your Back

I Have Your Back

I heard this phrase as I listened to a news programme the other day. It reminded me of the armour that ancient Roman soldiers would wear in battle. It was entirely front facing, primarily designed to protect the front, leaving their backs exposed. This at first glance looks like a serious omission. To safeguard these vulnerable areas, they relied on the support of fellow soldiers positioned behind them. This method of mutual protection ensured that each soldier could advance confidently, knowing they were covered from behind. This historical strategy can be transposed to reflect a safe organisational environment where team members operate under the principle of “I have your back.” Creating safety not a risk-free environment but one where people can rely on each other without fear. 


To enable such practice as you lead in your own situation here are five actionable strategies.

1. Establish Clear Communication Channels

Communication is the bedrock for any effective team. Just as Roman soldiers used non-verbal signals and shouts to coordinate their movements and defence, your team members must establish open lines of communication. Regular meetings, transparent processes, and open dialogue about tasks and challenges ensure that everyone knows their role and how they contribute to the team’s objectives. Clear communication helps prevent misunderstandings and builds a foundation of trust and support.

2. Cultivate Trust

Trust among team members grows when individuals consistently meet their commitments. When your team walks their talk. In the Roman legion, each soldier’s life depended on the reliability of others to guard their back. In a corporate setting, trust is built when team members deliver on their tasks reliably, meet deadlines, and uphold quality standards. Interdependence is key and relies on a foundation of trust.  Encouraging a culture where team members can depend on one another strengthens collective morale and effectiveness.

3. Support Risk-Taking and Innovation

One way to have each other’s back in your organisation is by fostering an environment that supports risk-taking and innovation. Just as soldiers would step into enemy territory protected by their comrades, employees should feel empowered to express new ideas and explore uncharted strategies without fear of undue criticism or failure. Celebrating creative attempts and viewing failures as learning opportunities can lead to groundbreaking innovations and a resilient team spirit.

4. Provide Constructive Feedback and Assistance

In the thick of battle, Roman soldiers had to adjust their strategies quickly, guided by the feedback from those beside and behind them. Similarly, timely and constructive feedback in the workplace helps individuals and teams adjust their course of action efficiently. Offering help and resources to ensure colleagues are not left struggling fosters a supportive team environment. It’s about ensuring that no one feels they are fighting alone. Collaboration is key.

5. Celebrate Team Successes and Individual Contributions

Recognition plays a crucial role in building a cohesive team. Celebrating team successes and acknowledging individual contributions reinforces the importance of each member’s role. This not only boosts morale but reinforces the collective identity and purpose. Just as the Roman legions celebrated victories together, modern teams should take the time to enjoy their achievements, reinforcing relationships in the team.

Next Steps

Embracing the “I have your back” philosophy can transform an average group into a formidable team, reminiscent of the legendary Roman legions. It requires clear communication, mutual trust, encouragement for innovation, supportive feedback, and shared celebrations. Each element builds upon the others to create a robust, cohesive unit.

As you move forward with your team, consider these strategies not as checkboxes but as integral parts of a dynamic process. Assess your current team dynamics and identify areas for improvement. Does my team feel safe to take risks? Is feedback constructive and timely? How often do you celebrate your successes?

Take the initiative to fortify your team by implementing these strategies. Encourage dialogue, support each other’s professional growth, and, most importantly, ensure that each member knows that their team has their back. This approach will not only enhance productivity but will contribute to a more engaged and motivated workforce. 

To find out more why not join us on the 15th May for a leadership development day “Ignite. Lead, Transform.” Click on the link for more details. https://www.smartculture.uk/events/ignite-lead-transform

Picture of Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

Scroll to Top