In organisations today, we face various challenges – diversity in experience, knowledge, skills, communication styles, personalities – just to name a few. Yet, everyone is bonded together with a common/shared vision or goal. For an organisation to succeed and create momentum to overcome external forces, loyalty to that shared vision is crucial because times can really become tough – and that’s when coming out the other side makes a team so much resilient.
Loyalty is an amazing thing— it is the very glue that bonds people together. I guess that’s why we make promises of loyalty to each other when we enter into the most intimate of relationships— “to honor and cherish till death do us part.” Sometimes we have ceremonies in which we make promises of loyalty to our children, we may use parties or dinners at times to give a “toast” to our friends and express our commitment. We usually use legal means to make a binding commitment to our collaborative partners. In all of these ways, we may a promise.
Yet the promise is just that— a promise. The intention and good will to do right by another person. The next question after the promise is one’s personal integrity: Will the person or persons live up to their promise? Will they be as good as their word? Will they do what they have promised and pay the price of loyalty?
If loyalty bonds people, if loyalty is what creates and calls into existence a family, a partnership, and a community, then disloyalty is what breaks the bonds. Disloyalty works as a cancer consuming the health and well-being of our bonds. Disloyalty fails the other person, weakens the bond, calls in question the value of what one said, and creates distrust. “Can I trust you?” “Now that you violated a promise and/or betrayed a trust, how can I trust you?”
When a person’s loyalty is off-and-on, when it comes and goes, when it is “fair-weather loyalty” then it is hardly “loyalty” at all. It is more convenience. The person is acting in his or her own interests and doing what serves them and not committed or loyal or trustworthy to the other person who he has pledged loyalty to. The pledge and the promise is actually a lie. Being loyal when things are going great, when there is no challenge, and when there is no price to pay is easy. In those situations, there is no test to the loyalty.
Loyalty is tested by tough times. Loyalty is tested when one has to extend himself to be loyal, to be true to one’s word. If a person doesn’t get his way and throws a tantrum and then tries to destroy the loyalty structure of the others, then that person has a deep problem with loyalty and with being trustworthy. Loyalty means staying the course, working through things, and being tolerant and patient enough to do the work of relating. To be loyal you have to be true to your word and be willing to pay the price to carry out your promises. It is in the tough times that we actually discover who is loyal and who is not. Will they “stand by your side” or will they bail?
All of this shows that loyalty is based on commitment and, in fact, loyalty is a commitment. It is support of a vision or values, to a principle or a project that we share together and it shows up as allegiance. When you consider the list of other words which describe this state you have a list of words that indicate a trusted position — faithful, fidelity, devotion, bond, devotion, dependable, trust, trustworthy.
To be worthy to be trusted (trustworthy) a person has to say and then do. We call that integrity. The congruency of being a person of integrity is what makes you and me worthy-of-trust. When I am loyal to you that means that I have earned the right to be trusted. When you are loyal to me, it means you have earned the right to be trusted. When one is disloyal, when one will not work through differences, will not even consider working through a conflict, when one refuses— then you see a person who is more committed to his own interests. So be careful in trusting that person. He is not showing the integrity of loyalty or making himself worthy-of-trust.
In all of this, you can see that loyalty requires truth, truthfulness, and a commitment to speak the truth even if it might upset someone. And so the biblical injunction, “speak the truth in love.” Conversely, where there is deception, cover-ups, manipulation, and falseness— there will be the treachery of disloyalty.
~ section picked from L. Michael Hall’s 2017 Morpheus Reflections #9