Leaders create organizational loyalty

Fellow coach Travis Hickman and I were discussing issues leaders face and the notion of loyalty came up, or rather nurturing of improper loyalty. When this happens the leader builds a team of people who are very loyal to him or her instead of the organization. There is a hidden danger here of creating a faction inside your organization that undermines its top leaders.

As a natural leader, wherever I am involved people follow me. I recall one such occurrence in my late teen years. I was working at Home Depot, in the garden department. I started as a regular associate and quickly moved into department management. Along the way, I created a following across the store that looked to me as their leader. When their department heads said something they looked to me for confirmation, but it went further- when the store manager wanted to get something done people looked to me to see if they should do it. I had unintentionally undermined the authority of my own leaders and leaders across the store. I kept people focused on me instead of the company’s mission and I could have cause harmed the business.

Travis encountered this in another form, namely in recognizing people on your team. One of his friends was quick to reward his team members but never connected them back to the company. When he moved on the team would not perform for anyone else. He too had inspired loyalty in himself instead of the company.

Luckily, it is easy to build loyalty to you and the company at the same time and prevent fractures from happening in the first place- by connecting your team to the greater mission. When recognizing your people remind them of the mission and how their contributions impact its realization. When people understand how what they do fits into the overall goal they will latch onto it. Connect them to this and you can rest in the knowledge that you have built a topnotch team that will continue to win long after you are no longer around.

What is your organization’s mission?
How are you connecting your team back to that mission, or if not what can you do to start?