15 Techniques That Build Loyal Followers
Surround yourself with people who will walk through hell with you.
“I used to love my job, they said, but not anymore.”
“What happened,” I asked?
“The old boss left. I’d do anything for the old boss. Now, I’m just putting in my time.”
You earn it:
Loyalty is always earned, it is never a gift.
You can invite loyalty but you can’t demand it.
How to earn loyalty:
- Enable other’s success.
- Leverage other’s strengths.
- Improve other’s performance.
- Adopt high standards.
- Correct and discipline.
- Answer public challenges publicly.
- Give meaning to tasks.
- Stand behind people when they screw up.
- Admit when you are wrong.
- Be emotionally steady.
- Clearly describe what you want.
- Model behaviors you expect.
- Share the spotlight.
- Don’t be a buddy.
- Make it easy to get things done.
Bonus: Believe you deserve loyalty.
People want to be loyal to a person, cause, or organization that deserves loyalty. Expressing loyalty is a noble act that enhances our feelings of worth and gives meaning to life.
What invites loyalty?
Nailed it, Dan. Great post!
I think selfless guidance, help and encouragement invite loyalty. Unconditional supports to grow and lift others invite loyalty. I believe loyalty is a selfless process that does not base on expectation. Even in case of expectation, it is not self centric but it is others centric. I also believe that while loyalty is good, excessive loyalty without growth and guidance is sign of personal weakness and inability. We can take the example of people who hang in organisations with no productive work. They wait for their retirement benefit and appear to be loyal. In fact, they are not. So, showing loyalty for personal benefit on the cost of organisation is not loyalty.
I strongly believe that being authentic is the greatest form of organisational loyalty. At the same time, people with lot of masks are the greatest disloyal people. They attempt to mislead and backstab everyone for their own interest. And today, unfortunately these kinds of people are the longest serving people in the organisations and they pretend to be loyal. Can we say that they are loyal? What about the people who leave organisation with genuine reason or on moral ground, or for personal growth? Between these two categories of people, who is loyal?
Could you elaborate on no. 14: “Don’t be a buddy”?
In the sense that there should be a professional/hierarchical distance?
In general I’m thinking the loyalty between friends is different from the loyalty between leader and follower. For one thing, loyalty to a leader is strengthened by the leaders loyalty to mission and vision. Perhaps its distance. What are you thoughts?
Thanks for the clarification Dan, I posted my comment before I saw that.
Agree, that friendship loyalty can be different sometimes from leader/follower.
While it can be ‘lonely’ at the top, wonder how much of the distance is self-imposed, a relic of old beliefs or maybe still necessary. Given the greater layers of interconnectedness, visibility and accountability, perhaps there is new leadership variation on the horizon. Great to think about!
I’m interested in the self-imposed distance/loneliness myself. I think its worth exploring.
Thanks for all your great insights,
In a current project I manage a small group of very individualistic and highly skilled developers. In this situation, I do find it more suited to try and build a social relation. Also, the age gap is small with most of them, so it seems natural to create a tight team, rather than introduce distance.
For managers having more people under them across many projects, I definitely see the point in your buddy argument. If the power distance is large due to the organizational culture, trying to be a buddy will just seem tacky.
Thanks for inspiring posts!
Admittedly the no buddy rule is disputable. I’m thankful you jumped in to add your perspective.
I can see age is a factor. I’d add that the length of the relationship matters too.
Thanks Dan. Good discussion.
I may be wrong, but for me there is no substitute for deeply caring about your team. If I’m honest with myself, I care more when I know people on a personal level.
I feel like managers manage while leaders inspire and influence. I’m more inspired by people I know then by people I’m acquainted with and I think my team feels the same way. We do battle together and they will take direction but when we’re off the field, we’re also good friends.
Anders beat me to it as there are instances where a buddy is needed. Someone to just listen, not lead. Not sure that there needs to be the hierarchical strata either.
It feels like some of the list….3, 5, 15 are more of a basic (perhaps even old school) model of management.
As far as what else invites loyalty, not so much having followers as having a true team. And yes, every team has obvious leaders and not so obvious leaders and a really good leader can/should facilitate the development/evolution of new leaders within the team. Engagement and alignment with vision do not come over night, so another invite for loyalty is planting seeds of the vision of what can be…what should be(?) The seeds may not sprout during your leadership tenure, that is okay too…maybe they take root years later…what a gift!
For me the intra-dependencies of a team can create a sum greater than the parts and that too is constantly evolving, moving forward if the leadership cohort is attentive.
LOYALTY a lost quality in managing….there has been a huge shift from people to $$$$. In order to create loyalty there is an old saying that nails it…..”people don’t care what you have to say until they know how much you care.” It may be simple but there is whole lot of truth there.
Wow have you been to my work place? Our new boss expects loyalty, doesn’t stand up for us, is emmotionaly unstable (proven by the fact that he will unload his woes on individuals)
It is very hard to respect him as a leader from a business stand point. I have been struggling to stay positive in this atmosphere for a while now and this has challenged me to reach for higher positions within the company.
I tend to think that besides the comprehensive and important list that Dan has compiled, attention is important, not only for loyalty, but for life. A person is loyal to one who pays attention to them by asking them questions, showing a genuine interest in them, and looking them in the eyes.
Thank you Dan, this list comes at a prefect time for my personal growth and the retrenching of my business in this economy. I have copied the list and labeled it Bill’s Job Description. It’s posted by my desk.
Good topic but requires lot of HR attention. Developing a good loyalty amongst all employees should be a major task for any HR Head. It’s the single most factor to stop attrition at the organization level. Only satisfied staff will develop a sense of loyalty.
Loyalty is a quality that is imbibed by way of an individual’s desire and the faith that a person develops while working in a specific work environment. It will come with a satisfied, care-taking environment. The management need to be fair and transparent in dealing with its employees.
The company’s prevailing value-based systems and the quality of top management make a big difference in inspiring people to remain loyal and committed towards achieving organization goals with self-motivation..
You’re definitely right about how loyalty needs to be earned. And the points you made, if followed, will get you started on that journey to earning respect and loyalty.
But I thought that there are a couple more points that (I think) could be on that list:
1. Be fair – A boss who plays favourites will not be favoured.
2. Include your team in the process – A team that feels left out, or out of the loop will never be able to feel a sense of belonging.
3. Invite and respect opinions/suggestions from all – You don’t have to use/incorporate ALL the ideas. But it is necessary to keep that line of communication open. People can surprise you with their insights and perspectives.
– Sindoora (http://www.beyondhorizons.in)
Hi Dan –
I really enjoyed this post. Can you direct me to any of your past posts that might deal with how to lead “from the middle?” I find myself in a position that puts me on the front line of trying to manage my own team and while providing guidance to everyone else who comes to me because they are unhappy with other managers and the overall management of the department. I feel an obligation to try to relay the information in a lateral and upward direction, but it would be more productive to bang my head on the conference room table.
Also, I completely agree with Sindoora’s additions. It is impossible to garner loyalty if you blatantly display favoritism.
Top performers are not looking for “buddies”, but for leaders and colleagues that can help them grow as people and as professionals. I like “don’t be a buddy”.
Re: don’t be buddies–provocative and interesting discussion. When you help others reach their goals or unleash their own vision, don’t you, in effect, become “vision buddies”?
Don’t be “buddies” with your subordinates but try to find “buddies” who are of the same “level” as you.. Having friends who understand you is worth it.. And don’t forget to have a mentor who won’t treat you as a “buddy” but as a protege… This would help us grow and stay stable as leaders
“In the absence of real, true, authentic leadership, people will follow just about anyone or anything”. ~me. I’ve always felt that the job of a leader is to remove the obstacles that are in the path of those we are leading, so that they can do the job we are asking them to do. Being authentic, being of service to them, and meeting the needs of the people we lead invites loyalty. Great post Dan!