I don’t remember now where I first heard this phrase. I know it was a long time ago, in any case. I remember figuring out what it meant from the context in which I heard it. Recently, I heard it again, but the context wasn’t quite as obvious, and so I wanted to be sure I was right about my impression of what this saying meant. I did a little research and found —
“I’ve got your six” means “I’ve got your back” and comes from the Fighter Pilot’s Clock references – 12 O’clock is in front, 6 O’clock is in back.
Yes, that’s what I thought it meant. It’s a cool saying if the person you’re speaking with knows the meaning. Regardless, the sentiment is the right one for your organization. If folks walk around saying, “No worries, I’ve got your back,” and they mean it, then we have a safe and collaborative environment. That also fits in with my definition of trust — I get that you authentically have my best interest at heart, not just your own.
Note that if I “have your back,” then you’re still in front. You are still in the lead. My purpose is to make sure nothing unexpected is happening out of your eyesight; it’s not to take or do your job. Together, we complete the task with fewer surprises. And if our whole organization has this attitude, then we have a safe, collaborative environment where all can flourish.
[Lightly edited in 9/2020 for our new website.]