Developing Critical Loyalty

November 15th, 2010 @   -  No Comments

Loyalty can be defined as making long-term commitments to a cause, society, organization and ideas. Loyalty is implicit in all relationships and a key ingredient to success. Nothing can be achieved or function without it.  Loyalty can even be found and valued in gangs and criminal groups. So loyalty can be misplaced. The question is: who or what are we loyal to?

Being loyal to our Creator is the starting point

Our loyalty to our Lord is to have a strong faith in Him; we do and promote what is good (working for a living, giving charity, supporting just causes, etc) and abstain from and oppose what is evil (corruption, discrimination, injustice, waste, etc.) Loyalty to Him is also manifested by our attitude and day-to-day actions. Being grateful in times of joy and patient in times of difficulty are strong indications of our loyalty to our Lord.  This loyalty also dictates that we must fulfill our obligations and contracts such as marriage, business or employment agreements. Being loyal to those principles is a sign of righteousness. “O you who have believed, fulfill [all] contracts.” (Quran 5:1).

Being loyal to others

When we are loyal to our society, our organization and the people it serves, this means we are committed to their betterment and success, and have their interest at heart. However, being loyal does not mean we totally agree with them and what they do. Critical loyalty dictates that we help them and support them when they do the right thing and voice our concerns and oppose them when they do wrong and violate the principles of truth and justice. Unfortunately, many leaders nurture blind loyalty, either with us or against us! Expressing different opinions or taking a different stance for them is considered a betrayal.

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Help your brother whether he is a wrongdoer or is wronged.” A man said: “I can help him if he is wronged but what if he is the wrongdoer, how can I help him?” He said: “Stop him or prevent him from doing wrong. That is how you help him.” (Al-Bukhaari)

So how can we be loyal and inspire critical loyalty? Here are some ways:

Be loyal to those absent

What if someone says negative things about others in your presence? Do they deserve your defense? Can you speak up for them? When we sincerely defend people who are absent, not only do we please our Lord but we also inspire loyalty and gain the respect of those present. In case we have something negative to say about someone, we should say it privately to them, not to others. On the contrary, when we fail to defend the honor of those absent or take part in the backbiting session, people know we would do the same thing to them when they are not around.

Honor commitments

Honoring commitments can be manifested in something as small as taking your kids out on the weekends, being punctual for appointments and meetings, starting an event on time, to completing a big project within the prescribed deadline and budget while maintaining the agreed quality. If situations change and commitments cannot be met for reasons beyond your control, contact those affected ahead of time and explain carefully the reasons. Never let a broken promise go unexplained. Broken promises corrode trust, loyalty and commitment. We should only promise what we can deliver; and always deliver what we promise. The prophet (PBUH) said, “”Truly, Muslims live by their commitments.” (Al-Albani)

Be open and transparent

Are you open to ideas and opinions that differ from yours? Do you share important information with your team members? Transparency and open communication breed trust and loyalty. However, a lack of transparency creates suspicion and doubt which lead to mistrust. This erodes loyalty. To increase transparency you need to: 

  • Highlight and emphasize common values and goals.
  • Seek input from others in matters that affect them to gain their buy-in and support.
  • Listen to their concerns and encourage contrary opinions.
  • Admit your mistakes. This encourages others to do the same.
  • No hidden agendas.
  • Give timely and constructive feedback.
  • Be sure your actions are in line with your words.

Show that you care

Loyalty and commitment is a two-way street. They have to be earned.  In their book First Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman found that people leave managers, not companies. Various research studies also show that the number one reason people leave their jobs is they do not feel appreciated. When people feel appreciated and trust that you have their best interest at heart, they will go the extra mile to support you, support your organization and support your cause.

       “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

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