What is the Gouge? | The Leading Blog: A Leadership Blog


What is the Gouge?

The Gouge

NAVY SEALs talk about the Gouge. But what is it?

It’s not a thing but mental readiness—a preparedness that is based on some foundational beliefs. It is a place you bring yourself and others to mentally. It is defined by Admiral and former Navy SEAL Bob Harward in The Gouge!, as “the contract we all have with humanity, sharing the best of everyone for the collective well-being of all. It was always intended to be information you could believe in, people you could trust, organizations you could rely on because it came from people who wanted the best for you, and therefore good for all.”

What caught my attention was the subtitle of the book: How to Be Smarter Than the Situation You Are In. The Gouge is more than just good advice shared with others. It is a perspective that brings out the best in others. It is a decision-making tool that presents obstacles as choices. Harward explains:

Each choice is filtered through the collective experience and wisdom of those participating and reinforced accountability to each other and to yourself, faith in one another, and inherent trust, which facilitates deliberate action. Once the choice is made, you’re committed and focused on making the right choice.

To have Gouge, you must be a tuned-in person with the following fundamental beliefs:

Mission First. People Always.

We can make others better every day. As a leader, “you are a participant in human development. If we can take care of people and each other, the rest of it will come.” Looking out for others builds trust and confidence. The mission succeeds when people succeed.

Purpose Defines You. Embrace It.

It all comes down to purpose. Leaders reinforce and leverage purpose. “If Gouge is about the information that links -all of us together, our purpose is the bedrock on which Gouge is built. It determines who you are, reinforces your belief, and ultimately determines your success.”

We Are All Accountable for Ourselves and Others

Looking out for each other requires accountability at all levels. It must come from above and below. “Lack of accountability is a slippery slope that is hard to stop once it festers itself in any organization or team. Accountability and confrontation are aligned. If you’re going to avoid confrontation, you’ll never hold anyone accountable.” Constructive, forward-looking confrontation is a part of accountability.

Anonymity kills accountability. You don’t have to own what you say. While social media can be used for good, it has created cultural accountability problems. “Tweeting. Posting on Facebook. All of those sites put a barrier between human connection, allowing people to refuse accountability for what they’re saying or doing.”

The best leaders know how to effectively implement it to get the best results for their team so they can fulfill their purpose.

Part of the Gouge is understanding when you need to confront something—how to ensure it is not adversarial, and how to positively leverage it to meet your objectives. Challenging each other is healthy. Because of it, the best ideas and best concepts will win the day. For the Gouge to work for the welfare of all, leaders must be willing to confront individuals and challenge them.

During any confrontation, remember we are one community with a purpose.

Faith In People Is My Religion

Faith in each other builds community. “It is essential because if you don’t have faith in one another, there is no trust, no passing of information or guidance, and the whole system breaks down.”

This faith is placed in the bond between two people, casting your dot with your fellow man in hopes of achieving a common goal.

If I went into every relationship believing that we’re all trying to do our best, then I got better results than if I went in skeptical or cynical. Trust but verify, but, you know, trust.

Never Quit, but Saying No Is Always an Option

For Navy SEALS, quitting is a mortal sin. No matter the demands, never quit. But there are times when the best Gouge is to quit. Sometimes, saying no is “just an opportunity to say yes to something else.” Sometimes, saying no forces you to live up to your maximum potential.

Great Leaders Share Gouge

Empower and support others through Gouge. Show them through your actions. “By showing your people that you see them not as a way to accomplish a mission but as teammates working with you to accomplish a mission. Make sure everyone is armed with the best information so they can not only do the job but so they can sync it with their purpose.”

What About Bad Gouge?

When people are working at cross purposes, there is bad Gouge. When you find yourself in a new situation, you need to recalibrate. “You have to think to yourself: Is someone trying to sell me something? Does it benefit this person/company in any way if they influence my thinking one way or another? Does this person have credibility?”

Many times, bad Gouge is simply being surrounded by the wrong people. Good Gouge only comes from relationships where everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal.

Identify Your Own Gouge

To identify your Gouge, “think about the essential personal and professional information you want your employees, team, and children to know. Focus on empowering those around you instead of yourself, and watch how successful you become. Always look to better yourself and better those around you, and always be courageous enough to communicate it. The Gouge is very simple. It is information used to create a better outcome for all.”

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:07 PM


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| This post is about Culture
, Positive Leadership
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