Why you hold your boss accountable, according to a US Navy SEAL

Navy SEAL and author of “Taking Point: A Navy SEAL’s 10 Fail Safe Principles for Leading Through Change,” Brett Gleeson explains why accountability and trust are key to any company’s success. Following is the transcript for the video.

Brett Gleeson: When an organisation is working diligently to have accountability as part of its culture, accountability is not just a top down strategy. It’s also not a negative thing. Accountability in an organisation when executed properly, actually has a positive impact on morale, efficiency, and even the profitability and success of an organisation. But again, it’s not just about leaders holding their team members and subordinates accountable, in a really truly accountable organisation that is successful they have a culture of upward management and upward leadership.

Just like in the SEAL teams, it’s a bit of a misconception you think in the military it’s always top down command and control leadership mechanisms, but in special operations we’ve worked diligently to adapt our leadership and management style to operate in what we call a decentralized command model. Where we have networks and teams of really empowered leaders making decisions in real time. Because we’re fighting a very decentralized enemy. But part of that culture is very transparent feedback and communication up the chain of command.

So for example after every real world mission, every training scenario, we perform what’s called an after action review. In the business world we might call that a post mortem. But the way that we do it is a bit more unique because we leave rank and emotion at the door when we come into that room to have that meeting. The newest person on the team can question the commanding officer about a decision they made. Anybody on the team can make recommendations how to make improvements, and that after action review process is part of our learning culture.

But again it has to be part of your culture and it has to be accepted by leaders. And those leaders have to really encourage upward communication and upward management. In my last company, one of our core values or guiding principles was everyone has a voice. And I had to live that value every single day and asking team members, regardless of their rank and tenure about how I can improve as their leader. What can I do to make your job easier? What can I do to make this work environment better? And being accepting of that feedback and actually applying that feedback and making improvements.

Trust is an extremely important component of an organizational culture today now more than ever. And trust is often a cultural factor that is overlooked or not properly managed and measured. But it has an impact for better or worse, on the financial health of an organisation. And the two areas that trust affects most in any company are productivity and engagement. And according to global Gallup research from last year, employee disengagement is at a whopping 67%. Only 15% of the workforce can be defined as engaged. Leaving 18% or what we call actively disengaged. Meaning they’re working against the organisation. And more Gallup research shows that employee disengagement here in the United States often times due to low levels of internal trust and internal accountability and discipline of leadership in organisations cost us upwards of 550 billion dollars a year in lost productivity. So one could theorise and conclude that trust is not a nice to have social variable, but it drives the financial performance and growth and success of any organisation.

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