Loyalty in Mutual Value relationships
“Loyalty is the quality of staying firm in your friendship or support for someone or something” – Collins English Dictionary
Why do we believe that loyalty is so important to the enduring nature of a Mutual Value relationship? At its simplest it forms the basis of trust between two people, two teams, two organisations, two groups in society. When we are consistent to those relationships, when we demonstrate loyalty, we define and enhance the likelihood of success for all parties. When we are loyal we gain the respect and loyalty of others. Like so many other elements of trust, loyalty is reciprocal – when you give loyalty you engender loyalty in others towards you. More broadly your loyalty ‘brand’ influences others. When they observe you being loyal to a relationship it influences their perception of the relationship you have with them. If as Stephen MR Covey says in his book ‘The Speed of Trust’, “Trust is the tide that floats all boats”, loyalty is the energy that drives the tide.
The difficulty is that loyalty has so often been traded for short term gain against short term measures. Many of us take the quick win, we put self-interest ahead of loyalty, and damage the relationship. Somebody once said that if relationships were like bank accounts we are depositing in pennies but we withdraw in pounds. In other words, relationships which have taken hard work and time to build can be destroyed by one act of perceived disloyalty, and it takes far more time and effort to rebuild a damaged relationship than it took to create it in the first place.
As you think about this in the context of Mutual Value relationships, we have defined loyalty as one of the key principles that all parties need to sign up to. And in particular its loyalty to the relationship, its ambition, and vision, over an above the short term focus of any transaction that we believe will define the long term outcome.
What’s absolutely critical is that all parties have the time and energetically engage to ask big questions and get shared definition.
What does loyalty mean to us in the context of our shared vision?
How will we act if we are being loyal to the vision and each other?
When there is an opportunity for one side to make a gain?
When something stressful has occurred that needs resolution?
When one party acts in a way that the other doesn’t expect or understand?
What will be different if we are truly loyal and how we will recognise it?
I want to encourage all of us to spend more time thinking about behaviours associated with principles, and finding ways of measuring and holding ourselves and each other accountable to those behaviours. I believe if we switch the balance from measuring what activities we are going to do, to how we behave, and we have shared ambition the outcomes will be assured.
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