A few days ago, an experience of a setback in a personal relationship made me deeply wonder about Loyalty. Have you ever been there? Has life happened to you too? And while this remains an extremely complex topic, I have made an attempt with an inquiry & a humble submission to the world, to you!
Well, I believe that Loyalty is desired not just in personal relationships between couples, family members and friends but even by the extended social communities like the organization one works at, brands one shops, the nation and perhaps even global community on some issues!
What is Loyalty? As per the definition- ‘Loyalty’ refers to’the quality of being loyal’ and ‘Loyal’ means- ‘giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution.’
Considering it is desired in so many relationships, one would think it to come easy. Yet it remains elusive for so many, which raises, the obvious questions. Is it an old-fashioned value-meant for different people? What are the merits in it, the down side and challenges and how does one decide when there are conflicting views?
- Is it being committed to someone?
- Staying faithful and devoted FOREVER? Like for ALWAYS?
- Why and at what cost?
- Is it about sticking to a friend forever, even if it’s not serving you or is hurting you?
- Is it limited to supporting and protecting your friend even in his/her absence?
- Is it about being in a relationship even when you feel used or abused?
- Is it about being high on Brand Loyalty despite quality issues?
- Is it about serving in an organization until you retire?
- Is it about being 100% on Employee Engagement, despite low Compensation & Benefits?
- Or is it about giving your best and slogging you’re a*** off, until you are laid off…?
However, almost all questions have a central underlying concern-
What if it’s hard and not convenient for me?
Why Loyalty at all?
Being loyal to someone or something is more than just ‘NOT cheating’. It's a Core Value! It’s a commitment that can only be made when you really care about a certain relationship. It refers to the depth of emotions and a special meaning to the relationship. It lays a foundation that fosters trust, safety, respect and an intent for a long-term commitment of growing together.
Let’s see why is Loyalty important?
Well, we can go on with the list but just to name a few. Loyalty is important, simply because-
- If you love yourself enough! You see- Karma never forgets your address! So, sow right, such that you reap right!
- There is nothing without trust and trust equals Loyalty. PERIOD!
- It’s an imperative pillar to build solid, authentic, quality & meaningful relationships in the long term.
- A loyal person ends up winning love, respect and trust from others.
- You are taken seriously and they know that you are worthy of their Loyalty should they establish a relationship with you.
- It makes you a valued & respected employee. Your superiors will take you along as they grow in their respective careers!
Being loyal doesn’t mean lowering your standards to put up with all sorts of people/environment. It also means being loyal to SELF! It also means that you know what you want in your life and who are the people that are worth keeping It helps you declutter your life with only what serves your highest good. You surely don’t want to invest in wrong relationships. Isn’t it?
Let’s look some of the fundamentals of ‘Loyalty’ in any relationship. So, the way I look at it is very basic and it remains true in any/every situation-
- They have utmost trust in each other that they have each other’s back.
- They will keep their word, be truthful and reliable in keeping their promises.
- They agree to speak their truth in the shared space even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable.
- They agree to keep each other’s best interests at heart always.
- They do not bad-mouth each other or go behind their back.
- They never-ever cross the line of integrity & dignity that will hurt each other, and
- Even if they agree to part ways, they will always maintain all of the above.
The Moment of TRUTH-
Let’s keep this really simple and not distort the basic fundamentals based on the side we are on or based on convenience. So I ask you-
“I am conveniently yours..!” Is that your definition of Loyalty?
Why are the corporates seeking it?
Most organizations have long taken notice of human factors that impact and create its growth. It has been established that People are the most important asset to any organization! Infact, they are investing significantly more on differentiating themselves with the right Compensation Strategy, Employee Engagement, ensuring handsome rewards and individual’s learning and development, just so that, in the end, the employees are just not more skilled but also feel the emotion of being cared for, the emotion of Loyalty towards their organization.
Also, let me clarify here that people don’t work for organizations. Yes, people work for people. People want to work with people and then build an organization together. Being a Career Coach myself, I found a deeper understanding and my answers in the professional context. And, while we discuss those ahead, the principles remain the same and equally valid for personal relationships too.
How to define Loyalty when there are conflicting interests?
Now, one may argue- Why should I be loyal to my Boss when he is not loyal to me? Or why should I be loyal to my colleague when he/she is only worried about his/her own growth? Valid question!
Let’s look at some possible scenarios and examples from our professional lives-
The above are just my points of view. And the good news is you get to choose to be anyone you wish! So who out of these 4 people did you resonate with the most- Sandeep, Arjun, Deepak or Priyanka? Which one of these people would you like to be friends with or hire for your team?
The Other Side-
Let’s appreciate the fact that Loyalty doesn’t work in isolation. It is built over time and on a strong foundation of integrity. Also, it is not a one-sided road. While in the ideal world, we expect everyone to be loyal, it is imperative to understand that to expect Loyalty in any relationship, one’s got to be loyal first, just like the fundamental rule to build anything or any strong relationships. Give before you expect. Even better, give without expecting!
No program could be a better Compensation Plan or Employee Engagement plan than being loyal to your employees, by taking care of them and being invested in their learning & career.
Even Customer Loyalty doesn’t exist, until you win their Loyalty by keeping your Customer’s interests supreme! The Customer has to perceive you as worthy for them to be loyal. And once you have earned that Loyalty and respect, the customers stick with you for good, and grow together!
Remember, all customers, no matter how small, expect the highest levels of service from a brand. If you can make them feel important and wanted, you will not just earn their Loyalty but also have a word-of-mouth brand ambassador spreading your name around.
We can’t learn Loyalty in one article or in a story or in a set of rules. Infact, sometimes one has to go beyond the rules to do what’s right! And if you are a true leader, you will know when to break the rules to build Loyalty for your friends, associates, colleagues, superiors, clients and organizations. Your success depends on it!
It takes time, effort, emotions, respect, courage, values and a character! If there's something I can do for him/her at the dark hour, I'll be there, no matter what. Why? Because when I needed him/her the most, he/she was there for me! He/she decided to stay when others left, and that's something that deserves a lot of respect. The least I can reciprocate with is ‘Loyalty’ and that is going to be a relationship worth having.
For those who may not agree, if someone was disloyal to you, ever, you'll understand what I'm talking about. Not that I wish so for you, but that’s when you might know the pain and hurt of it! When you realize someone betrayed you, when someone crossed the line of mutual trust, or hurt you in order to serve their own interest. Sometimes, when it is not reciprocated, we may want to even let go - be it personal, professional or any other relationship. Fact is that if someone is worthy enough, you would go out of the way to strengthen a relationship with utmost integrity & Loyalty. It is about doing the right thing-especially when nobody is watching!
Let’s learn how to be loyal, let’s learn how to refuse betraying someone just to serve oneself. And, if they don't value it, let them go, but if they do, they may become loyal to you too, and that's the kind of people you want to keep and build relationships with. And I feel this is the one thing, we should care more about as the world needs it!
Some would say Loyalty isn’t grey. It’s BLACK & WHITE! You’re either loyal completely, or not loyal at all. One can’t be loyal only when it serves you! Whereas others might argue-
Loyalty would be grey and would depend on the things at stake! (Or would stop when the benefits stop! Shhh…)
For instance, just imagine if our soldiers on the border falter in demonstrating 100% Loyalty towards us or our country! Imagine if the Doctor operating your father or mother or child or any loved one conveniently forgot to be loyal on that particular day…Would you accept it…..?
So I believe that LOYALTY IS A PRIVILEGE... You know why? Coz not everyone deserves it and not everyone can afford it!
Look, I am not a teacher or preacher on this topic of Loyalty... But I know this for sure that you don’t need anyone to teach you about Loyalty, as we all have a powerful one, just inside of us- our conscience which always tells us- Doesn’t it? No..? Listen harder... Next time if you are confused about making a decision, try asking yourself and do what’s right for you, but also ensure that it doesn’t end up being unfair or wrong to your family member, your friend, your colleague, your Boss, your client or your organization.
You see, at the end, it is not between you & them! It is between you & him! Now, for those of you who may be atheist, ‘him’ could refer to your own conscience or your higher self. If you don’t believe in that too, then this is for you-
Don’t do it for anyone else, coz it is not about anyone else.. It is about YOU! It is about who you become in the process. So I ask you-
- Who do you want to be?
- What are the standards that you are setting for yourself? Coz everyone is watching and fundamentally you communicate to them that this is how you’d like to be treated!
- So how would you like to be treated?
- What kind of relationships would you want to foster and
- What kind of people would you surround yourself with?
With utmost humility, I close this article with a prayer-
‘May we all instill the power to be loyal even when nobody is watching and may we teach our children to practice being loyal.If we do violate it- may we have the strength to make it right on time. And, if we still continue to violate recklessly, may we have the strength to reap the fruits responsibly’!
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