Who passes up an opportunity to use the word fealty outside the context of medieval fantasies or galaxies far, far away? Frodo is engaged in his work; so is Luke Skywalker. And, inspired by their leaders, they become leaders themselves.
Strong leaders beget strong leaders—and loyalty and engagement and trust. Think Yoda. Think Obi-Wan Kenobi. Think Gandalf. It’s the way of the hobbit, of the Jedi, of the wizard, of the force, of Middle Earth—and of the world of work.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
Who believes that one? To believe the line is to believe the white lie, and the organization whose former employees give this response when asked why they left, ought to know it’s its own fault sometimes, its former employees’ fault other times, and most of the time both sides’ fault. The wisdom comes in knowing which is which and whether or not the leadership is strong or lacking. Is it or is it? No matter how many sides are responsible, however, finding fault achieves little to ensure loyalty among and between those still there and those who will be there later.
Strong leaders know that positive, willing loyalty shouldn’t and can’t be forced, will come with the right cultural fit—and isn’t easy: Think about Yoda and Obi-Wan training a recalcitrant Luke, or Galdalf endeavoring to persuade a reluctant Bilbo or fearful Frodo. Showing the way and providing inspiration to be a part of something larger than one’s self, to join a movement, a team of many, each with vision that feeds off the leadership’s, drives engagement among staff for sure and lifts the employer and consumer brand, absolutely.
We’re in an Open Relationship
Who likes one of those, really? In their heart of hearts, in love and in work, most pine for a committed relationship, an exclusive one in which each party can count on a baseline of loyalty to the one cause and long-term commitment to the work at hand and nothing elsewhere. But an open one is what the relationship between employer and employee has become in the face of a persistent, legitimate yearning for fidelity in the world of work, between leaders and their teams. That is reflected in an undercurrent of frustration in the world of work today – something that yesterday’s #TChat tweets echoed.
We want to believe that the work we put so much work into is more than just as easily the job of someone else interchangeable with us, and that the people we do it for appreciate that. And when our work appears to fall short of all that, and we leave on our own volition or someone else’s, a little part of us inside tables the notion of loyalty and of a committed relationship—reluctantly, with a small pang of sorrow, deep down.
The Leadership Is Strong in That One
Gandalf would never commit to an open relationship, and neither would Obi Wan or Yoda. Yet none of these fictional leaders or strong real ones would deny that jobs for life are no more. Strong leadership provides inspiration to engage and inspires loyalty even in today’s fluid world of work, and no strong leader today would deny the mentee who elects to leave the right to do so.
Retention is what strong leaders inspire, but fealty is not what they require; they just attract it by leading from within, and we admire them. And, so, when one among the flock leaves and says, “It’s not you; it’s me,” Gandalf, Obi-Wan, Yoda and strong leaders in the world of work who know themselves to be strong leaders know their former employees’ or mentees’ words to be true, not white lies.
Kung Fu and Zen are these leaders’ modus operandi. Loyalty, commitment, trust, fidelity and fealty in work come down to cultural fits, and when the fit isn’t quite right in the workplace, but the leadership is strong, there’s a world of work out there for a different drummer’s marcher to find inspiration and the loyalty, commitment, trust, fidelity and fealty that follow.
Thank you for joining us yesterday. Did you miss the preview? Here it is. Your tweets made us think. Check out the slide show below, to see what we mean. We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday.
#TChat INSIGHTS: Loyalty and Engagement in the World of Work
Storified by TalentCulture · Thu, Jun 07 2012 13:26:49
our employees, don’t expect them to be loyal to you. #tchatRob McGahen
t an individual drive for getting the job done right and Loyalty a relationship with the corp? #TChatJanis Stacy
d to be loyal or committed if one feels underpaid or underappreciated. #tchatRayanne