The Loyalty Liability

“Tell people what you really expect and hold them to it, without apology.” – Kevin Lawrence, Your Oxygen Mast First

In a recent media interview, the host and I had a conversation about why so many entrepreneurs and CEOS don’t build the amazing team that they would like to have. One of the reasons is what I call the ‘loyalty liability’.

I’ve seen two ends of the spectrum: loyalty to people and loyalty to performance.

Many founding entrepreneurs – whether a small startup of a couple of million or those more established with a few billion in revenue – are more likely to be loyal to the people who have helped them to grow.

Hired CEOs are likely to be at the other end of spectrum with loyalty to performance.

“People want real feedback. They want to do the best job they possibly can but need to know where the bar is set.”

Loyalty is an amazing trait. People want to give their best to you but, unfortunately, it often comes at a massive price when those people are no longer as effective in their role as they need to be – when a CEO cares so much about someone that they allow or accept mediocre performance.

Many CEOs I work with aren’t naturally comfortable with feedback, and have built wonderful, caring organizations. But a leader must give feedback so that a team member can stretch and grow, or modify their role when they’ve outgrown their capability. Now, no-one is perfect, but when the CEO turns a blind eye to too many things, it’s no wonder the person doesn’t perform as well. And then the CEO wonders why the business isn’t performing as well as it should, and why they are carrying more of the load and stress.

If a leader or manager really cares for a person, they would never, ever, never, ever, ever, ever, ever let them sit in a role and suffer as a mediocre, low performer. It’s one of the most disrespectful things to do, when you know and they know, that they create no value. Take your heart for those people to train and develop them, move them to a different role or help them to move on.

Many of these low performers need their jobs and aren’t in a position to move. It’s too scary. So, you need to help them to do it with extra time or support to make the move.

As a leader, you have to understand the limitations of your own mindset. If you want to achieve your aspirations, it will only happen with a great team and a loyalty to performance, as the ultimate measure.

The Challenge

  • In your business, where is your loyalty a liability – with customers, suppliers or people on your team?
  • How can you shift one of those relationships to become more loyal to performance versus blind loyalty?