In business, if not in all of life, there is no more important virtue than loyalty. Courage and conviction are critical to making progress by yourself, but the moment you enter into any kind of collaborative effort — and virtually all businesses are collaborative — you are in a world where loyalty rules.

Loyalty is the glue that binds all our relationships. It is what allows leaders to lead, followers to follow, and causes to be pursued long after the founders have gone. Without loyalty, mentoring wouldn’t work. Without loyalty, negotiations couldn’t be reached. Without loyalty, the fundamental employer/employee deal wouldn’t work.

If you have a business, you depend on all sorts of people — and those people depend on you. To achieve your goals and to satisfy their desires, you need them to willingly support you. In a recent message to me on the subject of “faithfulness,” JF had this to say: “You can get a good inside view of the psychological underpinnings of loyalty by looking at African initiation rituals and American fraternity ‘hazing.’

Both demand that the initiate endure pain and duress before entering the fold. But once ‘in,’ group members display a highly advanced sense of loyalty — they may even go so far as to ‘get violent’ if you say anything bad about, act out against, or try to constrict the rituals of the organization they’ve all joined.” Why? JF suggests “perceived value.” “The harder it is to get in, the more precious membership feels.

And the further they’re willing to go to protect it. The member is no longer just a member, but more like a founder or an ‘owner’ of a piece of the organization.” This is a very good point. You may have noticed that your best friends are often those with whom you’ve undergone some pain or discomfort. Maybe you were in school together. Maybe the Army. Maybe it was a disastrous trip you took together.

Mutually endured pain connected to a common purpose creates a perception of value. If that’s a way to get loyalty, it is a long shot away from what the magazines have been telling us lately. Loyalty, the feel-good philosophers have been arguing, comes to you if and only if you make things as pleasant as possible for your employees and others.

Certainly, you have to treat people fairly in business. But if you want them to be loyal to you, you might have to do more. So think about how you can create more loyalty in your relationships. What do you need?

1. Something challenging that you do together?

2. A purpose to that challenge?

3. Some kind of inner circle?

4. A selection system?

I don’t know what the answer is, but there is definitely something to this. Let me know what you think on the ETR Message Board (www.earlytorise.com). How does all this apply to your business and/or career goals?

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]

Mark Morgan Ford

Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Wealth Builders Club. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.

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