I took my thirteen-year old daughter on a date night last week to my favorite steak joint in town. Just Caroline and me. I cherish these times with my daughter. At her age, one minute I’m “Super Man” and the following minute she’s “super embarrassed to be seen in public with me”! You know the age.
But this dinner was different. Caroline and I were engaged in great conversation. One of the qualities I admire most in my daughter is her ability to choose great friends. Since she was a kid, every girlfriend that Caroline brought home, was a keeper. Let’s just hope she can do the same with boys ten years from now. Yes, that number was not a typo!
At dinner I asked Caroline a question. “Of all your “besties”, what do you love and admire most about Quinn, Hadley, Allyssa and Avery?
Her answer gave me great insight into my daughter’s heart.
“Loyalty, Daddy.” “My friends always have my back!”
Her answer got me thinking.
I’ve coached hundreds of corporate leaders over the past ten years. Do you know what topic comes up in nearly every coaching session? Loyalty. And the lack of it in our workplaces.
I’m blessed to have a loyal wife. Jill and I are married fifteen years this summer. But I’m equally blessed to have a loyal Chief Operating Officer of my company. Cathy and I have been working side by side with one another for fourteen years. I’ve learned more about loyalty from these two women than just about anyone.
All that know Cathy or have worked with our company as a speaking client or a participant in one of our five leadership programs know that we have a rock-solid staff. A team that just about any company would admire and envy. This did not happen by luck. This happened by choice. Our number-one value in our company is loyalty. No drama. No gossip. No back stabbing.
I remember when I first realized we had something special.
Years ago, I was hired to run a leadership program in Europe. I was the leadership resource. Cathy was the program manager. Someone on the client team had some issues with Cathy. At the end of the week that person recommended that if we continue working together that I drop Cathy from the program. And I told this client what I would tell any client, “No Cathy…No Tommy!”
When I look back at my fourteen-year working relationship with my Chief Operating Officer, it was that moment in Europe that Cathy’s and my working relationship was cemented in loyalty. She knew that I had her back. I knew she had mine. And our culture changed for the better.
Before I started writing books and speaking for a living, I was the CEO of a renowned global leadership organization. I would say, unequivocally, that this organization had and still has the greatest mission statement in the world…to build bridges of understanding among ALL people. And I would say, unequivocally, that much of who I am today came from the great people and experiences that I had as a student, staff member and eventually, CEO of this organization. But sadly, I can also say unequivocally, that I was stabbed in the back more times in the four years as CEO than I have in my entire lifetime. To this day, metaphorically, I still can’t take my t-shirt off at the pool…too many knife wound scars on my back from ten years ago.
So, I’ve learned the hard way, what my thirteen-year old daughter innately understands. Loyalty is everything.
Loyal people build loyal teams. Loyal teams build loyal cultures. And loyal cultures build lifelong customers and clients. It just takes a handful of toxic people in your organization to kill loyalty.
Heart-Led Leaders understand that the root of loyalty is trust. My father told me as a young boy that trust is earned, not asked for. “Never trust anyone who starts a sentence with – Trust me”, my father used to say.
Many companies spend much of their time focusing on ROI and revenue generation. But what would a company look like if they spent an equal amount of time building a culture of loyalty and trust?
I know the answer. At your company pool party all your teammates would proudly be jumping in the pool with no t-shirt on…because there would be no knife wound scars on their backs. And you would be celebrating, yet, another record year of achievments!