Loyalty is the capacity to stick to and stand by a person, a cause or an organization. People who are loyal remain committed to people or things in good times and bad. The opposite of loyalty would be some version of fickleness or fair-weatheredness. It’s easy to stick with someone or something when things are going well. But when things get difficult . . . True loyalty is often very costly. It frequently involves the willingness to stand by someone at great personal expense. On the whole, there appears to be a shortage of loyalty today. Americans, as a whole, are not good at long-term commitments that are based in large part on this trait of loyalty.
Quiet, more introverted, leaders are usually very loyal people. They tend to continue to buy from the same car manufacturer that has served them well in the past. They tend to order the same thing from the menu at the same restaurant. They enjoy stability and for them often predictability is connected to safety. Many of them believe novelty is largely overrated. Similarly, they tend to be loyal to vendors, to their customers, and to their employees. This is an asset to be leveraged. Leaders who are loyal will tend to engender higher degrees of that same loyalty from those they lead. Their sacrificial disposition as a leader is reciprocated. Followers will tend to do for their leaders what they believe their leaders would do for them.
This introverted strength when overextended, however, becomes a weakness. What does over-loyal look like? It looks like a leader who is so committed to the direction or the plan that pulling out when the damage is still minimal is sometimes not done. Intense loyalty sometimes blinds quiet leaders to the reality that the plan or the relationship is not working out. We are loyal to a fault. This underlines the importance of our need for shared leadership to provide balance. As more introverted leaders, we would do well to be aware of the possibility that our loyalty is blinding us at times to reality, and listen to the more extroverted leaders around us. Is there a cause, a situation, a person that you are having difficulty letting go of? This is a frequent struggle for quiet leaders.
If we can neutralize this potential weakness related to our loyal disposition, loyalty itself is a huge asset and a rare commodity to be celebrated. Are you a quiet leader? If so, you likely know exactly what I’m talking about. Leverage your authentically loyal self for the good of the team you lead. Whether they thank you for it or not, the team will benefit from the increased safety that is created as a result.
“Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life.” [Napoleon Hill]