Posted by: Christine Donovan | January 15, 2010

The Number 8 New Year’s Resolution for Leaders

Well I’ve already broken my New Year’s resolution to blog everyday; it can be a challenge sometimes.  So I apologize for being off line this week!

Here is the 8th New Year’s Resolution for Leaders: 

8.  Practice and inspire loyalty.

“Loyalty cannot be blueprinted. It cannot be produced on an assembly line. In fact, it cannot be manufactured at all, for its origin is the human heart-the center of self-respect and human dignity. It is a force which leaps into being only when conditions are exactly right for it-and it is a force very sensitive to betrayal.”  — Maurice R. Franks

I’m not sure what the cause is – maybe it’s the reality shows, or the highly-charged partisan politics, or our competitive American society — but we’ve become a people who revel in talking about each other….usually negatively.

In this millennium, gossip has been elevated to an art form (i.e. TMZ.  Oy..!).  Winning at any cost has become a way of life (“Survivor” or “Big Brother”).  And turning on each other seems to be the key to political survival  (See Fox News or CNN). 

In 2010, it’s rare to encounter the person who refuses to propagate poison.  But no matter who you are or what your life goals are, loyalty has always been, and will always be, a rare and valuable virtue.

Let’s define it.   According to Webster’s, loyalty means: 

1 : unswerving in allegiance, as

a : faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful sovereign or government

b : faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due

c : faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product.

If we had the time, we could discuss a long list of life situations where loyalty should be expected as part of normal human interaction – loyalty to family, friends, neighbors, church members, team members, professional associates, etc.   But sadly, it’s more common (and “cool”) to do the opposite – to critique, belittle, mock.  (David Letterman and Jon Stewart have made successful careers out of it.)

But  I digress.  This series is about leadership… and loyalty is one of those seldom-practiced leadership qualities that deserves revival.

General Colin Powell defines loyalty well:

“When we are debating an issue, loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not.  Disagreement, at this state, stimulates me.  But once a decision is made, the debate ends.  From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own.”

Good advice for subordinates.  But it starts with you.  If you want your team to support you, then be loyal to them. 

If you have a habit of discussing team members’ weaknesses at managers meetings or in the break room, I guarantee that your staff members are doing the same about you. 

Set an example for the behavior you expect from others; protect your team and demonstrate your loyalty to them.

My grandmother used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Enough said.

Tomorrow:  Resolution Number 9 — Develop and build good relationships.


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