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Loyalty is a much misunderstood concept

Blair McPherson - Former Director, Author and Blogger
A member of the team can let loyalty blind them to the faults and misdemeanours committed by their leader. A leader can be too loyal to their team or an individual letting past achievements blind them to current shortcomings. Loyalty to an organisation can extend to protecting the organisations reputation, even at the expense of dismissing allegations of misogyny , racism and homophobia.
In the work place it’s not uncommon to come across a senior manager who demands loyalty from their team. This extends to any form of dissent or expression of concern/doubt being considered personal disloyalty. This is unhealthy, it means within the team/organisation debate is closed down rather than open up, it means the bearer of unwelcome news is treated as a hostile critic, the result is no one speaks the truth to power. Which in turn means obstacles are not identified and ways round them not found.
It may be admiration rather than fear that leads team members to be uncritical of the leaders decisions or behaviour. They have a successful track record, their methods have worked well in the past and their decisions proven to be right.
When a leader has invested a lot in an individual or team, when they have weather some difficult storms together and enjoyed some success they can be reluctant to accept that time and changing circumstances require personnel changes.
The leadership of any organisation is concerned to protect the image and reputation of that organisation. If your responsible for a hospital or a police force it is important that the public have confidence in the organisation. This has led in some cases to the leadership minimising or dismissing serious concerns in order to protect the organisation. Which in turn has led on occasions to whistle blowers being considered disloyal and their motivation questioned.
These are all cases of misguided loyalty. Loyalty does mean standing by your colleagues, your boss or organisation when it would be easier to side with the critics but it is not unconditional support. A manager/leader or organisation has the right to expect that if you have concerns or doubts you will express them directly to your boss not behind their back. Like wise concerns about the actions of the organisation should be made in-house not in public.
Of course this is a two way process and managers should provide opportunities for genuine discussion so people can express concerns and lean the rational behind the thinking even if they don’t agree with it. The culture of an organisation must be one in which it ok to speak out about things that are wrong without fear of retribution. Ironically the result of establishing this type of open culture is that it is more likely to encourage loyalty to management and the organisation.

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