How Leaders Build Loyalty

I read a study today that said only 25% of US employees think their employer has earned their loyalty.  Over the past couple of days I’ve done posts regarding a followers loyalty.  But loyalty is a two way relationship.  A leader values loyalty but can’t demand it.  We value it because we know a loyal employee is more likely to be trustworthy, give their best effort, represent the organization well, help shape a positive culture, believe deeply in the mission and be with us for the long haul.  But since you can’t demand loyalty how do build it among those you lead?  Here are a few of the basics…

  • Be grateful.  Show gratitude for the value everyone brings to the organization.  Appreciation is a glue that makes good workers stick around.
  • Be inspiring.  Cast a vision showing how your organization will change the world or make life better for those in need.  People want to know they’re giving their lives to something that’s genuinely significant.  
  • Be vulnerable.  Admit your mistakes and be honest about your weaknesses.
  • Be encouraging. Find ways to add value to everyone in the organization.   Catch people doing something right and let them know about it.  People want to feel valued by and valuable to their leader.
  • Be fair. Ken Blanchard says, “There is nothing as unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.”
  • Be trustworthy.  Demonstrate high integrity in all you say and do.

Today’s Leadership Challenge: Choose one of the “BE’s” from the list above and find a tangible way to put it into action today.

Seven Ways to Demonstrate Loyalty

  1. Speak positively about your leader and organization at all times.
  2. When you disagree with a decision or the direction of the organization speak only with those who have the authority to represent your concern.
  3. Use your interpersonal skills to build team unity rather than builing a personal following.  (Are you seeking loyalty to yourself or supporting loyalty to the organization?)
  4. Be an asset to your organization by demonstrating a positive attitude even in the tough times.  The attitude each one of us displays shapes the corporate culture in which we work. 
  5. Avoid using negative body language to communicate your frustration or dissatisfaction with the leadership of your organization.
  6. Work hard and go the extra mile.
  7. Express gratitude for the positive characteristics of your leader and organization.

Remember loyalty is demonstrated in your words and actions and is a reflection of your character.  What would you add to this list?

The Small Demonstrations of Disloyalty

I’ve never served under a leader that I agreed 100% with everything he or she said or did.  My guess is you’re experience has been the same.  But agreement is not the basis of loyalty.  Loyalty is rooted in relationship and respect regardless of differing opinions, approaches or philosophies. 

Disloyalty generally develops slowly and subtly slips it’s way into a persons character.  It expresses itself through pseudo commitment, self-promotion and slanderous comments that ultimately dismantles people’s confidence in the leader.   It’s not always obvious and outright, in fact it’s more commonly understated and simple.  This was the approach Absalom took when he began to undermine his father David’s leadership.  2 Samuel 15:2-6 tells us,

Absalom would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision…Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” 4 And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice.”  5 Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. 6 Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

This took place over a four year period of time and slowly but surely Absalom dismantled the people’s confidence in David’s leadership.  While it’s not likely that you’re planning on overthrowing the Senior Pastor at your church or CEO of your organization we still have to be careful in our daily interactions to demonstrate flawless loyalty to our leaders.  Simple phases like, “I wouldn’t do it that way but…”, “I’m not sure why he chose to go that direction” OR “Her decision didn’t make any sense to me” can have destructive effects on the leader of your organization.   While these phrases may sound like a simple expression of opinion it’s also a subtle expression of disloyalty that undermines others confidence in the leader.

What do you need to do this week to reinforce loyalty to your leader and organization?