Excuse me Sir, what do you think about loyalty?

When Prince William visited New Zealand this week he made it known that he didn’t want to be referred to as Your Royal Highness.  Just Sir was okay. One of the duties he performed was to open the new Supreme Court building, the building that houses our final court of appeal, replacing the Privy Council sitting in London.  Another tie with England as the “mother country” slips away.  He might one day be our head of state but, like his father and grandmother – our current head of state – he shows no more inclination to meddle in our affairs than the head of any other state.

I had a chat with a friend the other day about loyalty. Loyalty was being demanded in a low trust situation. Since then I seem to see the word everywhere – I even get American Express Card Miles for being loyal. Thank you for your loyalty it states on the bottom of an invoice received today. What I realised from the chat to my friend is that loyalty and leadership have a (sometimes) uneasy relationship.

When we’re in a great team with high trust and high commitment it’s a pretty good bet that we’ll be loyal. But what about the boss who demands loyalty from his or her people.  You know: “Anyone who wants to  be in my team better be loyal”. Why would you say such a thing?  Or why would you need to say such a thing? Well you might if you were at war, or you were scared of something that those in your team might do.  At war? Scared? Yes, if you were actually at war. But otherwise I reckon you’ve lost it – you’ve got the right people on the bus, the bus is going in the right direction, you have a strategy, a team charter, as the leader you’ve let go. Or so you think. Actually if you’re worried about loyalty and demanding it or any compromises that goes with such a demand, you might as well leave the bus and jump on the one-seater motorbike.

We saw the sort of adoration of Prince William that we haven’t seen for a royal in years. It might be he’s handsome (hey I’ve got more hair!), but it might also be that his family aren’t demanding any sort of loyalty. Rather they think we will do the right thing. There’s a good chance we’ll be loyal to England for many reasons – historical, our familial links, our membership of the Commonwealth and our mutual acceptance of secular values of honesty, transparency, freedom and democracy.

Nothing was demanded but plenty was given. It was a pleasure to have you visit Sir.

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2 thoughts on “Excuse me Sir, what do you think about loyalty?

  1. Hey Stephen. Great Blog. Loyalty, like respect can only be earned in business. Positional respect went out with the ark and no longer is very effective. You might get away with demanding respect and loyalty the first time, but at a pretty high cost (i.e. low morale and staff motivation).

    The authentic leader needs to earn a lot (including loyalty and respect) in their first 100 days . .


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