Here is the question I want to pose? How do leaders develop true and healthy loyalty among their staff. The answer is deeply counter intuitive and the opposite of how many leaders seek to enforce loyalty. In fact, loyalty cannot be forced or enforced. But it can be nurtured and developed. It is done, however, in just the opposite way that unhealthy leaders seek to enforce it.
These are some of the qualities that build high loyalty among staff. They are practices of healthy leaders.
I want the very best for my staff and their development.I will help them become everything they can be and at the same time hold them with an open hand should it be time for them to leave and take on a larger challenge. When that day comes I will celebrate with them and help them make a healthy transition.
I will encourage them to be their own people, speak their own minds and engage with me and the team in robust dialogue as long as there are no personal attacks or hidden agendas. Every person at my leadership table is there for a reason and I want all their intellectual capital, ideas and thoughts. It is an open, candid, collegial atmosphere.
I will encourage disagreement and push back and will never marginalize anyone for doing so. Loyalty is not that you agree with me but that you want the very best for the organization and are willing to do whatever it takes to help us get there. Rather than trying to control thoughts (which never works), I will encourage candid discussion of the issues knowing that this is how we get to the best solution. I will always send the message, "I want your opinion."
I will keep my word and model integrity and honesty. The commitments, lifestyle and treatment of people by leaders breeds either cynicism or respect. There is no loyalty without well earned respect by leaders. Leaders model the behaviors and commitments that they require of staff.
I will stay connected with them so that they know I care about them and appreciate their work. Disconnected leaders send a message of lack of appreciation. I cannot be the best buddy of my staff (and that is not healthy) but I can stay connected, interested and engaged in what they are doing. This also means that I will give regular feedback on how they are doing and remove barriers they face so they can be as productive as possible.
I will compensate them fairly for the job they do. Taking advantage of people by not paying them well or fairly for their work breeds discontent with good reason.
I will not micromanage but empower well within understood boundaries. Empowerment is one of the most powerful keys to loyalty because it sends a message of trust, competence and the desire to allow one to use all of their gifts and creativity to accomplish the outcomes of their job. Micromanagement is deeply disempowering.
I will provide maximum clarity on what our ministry is about and how we intend to get to success. Clarity is empowering and releasing because with clarity people know what direction to go and they are released to help us get there.
I will lead from influence rather than positional authority except in those rare instances where positional authority must be used. Positional authority can be a means of control while leading from influence is a means of mentoring and empowerment. Wherever possible we want staff to make appropriate ministry decisions within the boundaries they have been given.
I will not make unilateral decisions that impact my staff without talking to them. People do not like surprises. And, senior leaders may well not have thought through all the unintended consequences of decisions made for the organization. Thus I will always consult my senior leaders prior to any major directional or policy move so that it is us making the decision, not me.
I will be candid and truthful about issues related to the organization. Staff have the right to know what challenges the organization is dealing with. Unless it is confidential, good leadership does not hide issues or spin them but shares them candidly and honestly.
I will encourage loyalty to God and to the mission of the organization rather than to me as the leader. Our mission is the strongest glue that holds us together. Loyalty to the leader is never as strong as loyalty to the mission. Leaders can disappoint and leave. Leaders who demand loyalty are leading from a narcissistic place while leaders who encourage loyalty to the mission are leading out of servant leadership.
Ironically, leaders who don't demand loyalty but serve in ways illustrated above are leaders who have the loyalty of their staff. They did not ask for it but they earned it. In fact, good leaders don't even think about developing staff loyalty to them. They simply serve their staff well.
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