Loyalty at work

In working environment have you ever wondered about:

  • Does a mutual feeling of trust within the organization increase productivity and commitment to set goals?
  • Why can’t you handle an employee that frequently appears to undermine your authority or sabotage your projects?
  • What is wrong when you entrust to employee and still, because of him, in team there is no teamwork attitude?


Most of the times the answer to the above questions is about loyalty: the quality of “faithfulness” to you as a leader or your principles, your country, organization, work, your vision, your superiors and subordinates.

Loyalty is a two-way street. Majority understands it as being loyal to those above forgetting those below. But, a leader depends on team. All of them should be committed, productive and reliable so that the entire department, company or country could be successful.

In strictly traditionally hierarchical organizations (companies or even countries) there is only one way of implementing the will or preferences of the leader or owner. It is called command or in case of country a constitution / laws that are in forced by appropriate organizations. But this is a very different ‘loyalty’. It is a common knowledge that hierarchical organizations are unfortunately beyond than others populated by those that are more interested in their personal well-being than the official objectives of the organization. According to Tullock “the system tends to select against honest and truthful men” in those organizations, therefore the immoral and disloyal bureaucrat has an advantage over the ethically motivated man.

RespectPeople of character take into account their moral obligations to their employer first and so continue if organizations are loyal to them. A virtuous employer does not think of employees only as means to an end or as costs. Employees should always be treated with respect and it is the obligation of the organization to see that individual leaders or managers do not abuse their power or mistreat their subordinates. Employees should feel free to raise organizational, business or other issues without fear of retaliation. Kill-the-messenger behavior and the reaction will be in active or passive encouragement of dishonest reporting. The use of euphemisms such as “down-sizing” or “right-sizing” may make consultants, top management or owners feel better about the decision to terminate jobs due to plant closings or other issues, but it does not change anything from a moral perspective: it is just a layoff. A person’s job, like a person’s business, is a highly valued possession that pervasively affects the lives of the employee and his or her family.

To practice true loyalty in the organization great leaders should:

  • build a relationship of trust and support;
  • stand up for organization and its members; not push an employee under the train when someone ‘outside’ complains about her or him;
  • listen to employees without your interruption where you explain or defend  own position;
  • consider that commitment to the employees enforce us to keep them or, eventually, we lose credibility and face a lowered morale;
  • discuss organizational problems and the problems of co-workers;
  • build up a bank of ‘good will capital’ that you can spend, when and if necessary;
  • be aware that employees also have moral obligations, some autonomy of action, and some freedom to find their own solutions to problems – which brings responsibility;
  • not allow gossiping.

It is a short and not a whole list but as Chinese proverb says “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”


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