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Loyalty is Dumb (at Work)


Robby

Many of us think that loyalty is supposed to be a good idea. We want people to stand by us no matter what. Or we want to believe we can place our faith in a team or a leader, and that even through difficult times sticking with them will eventually be rewarded.

But loyalty is dumb. Especially at work.

Rope Knot
© Flickr User Jeanne Menjoulet

Loyalty is a big topic in the world of philosophy, and it’s not too easy to define. My favorite version is absolute allegiance to a person or idea. That sounds pretty great if you are the creator of the idea or the person to which someone else is loyal. But what happens when we have a conflict? Examples include:

  • Your colleague asks you to cover for them when they are out of the office
  • A boss tells you to do something which you know is unethical
  • The company has a policy which is actually against the law.

All of these conundrums really happen. And all of them call into question your loyalty. Will you stand by the person who asked you to do the wrong thing? Or will you adhere to principles?

If there is no conflict between what someone wants to you to do and what you know is right, than there is no cause for loyalty. Standing by someone when they are suffering isn’t being loyal, it’s being a good person. Loyalty is allegiance, and what makes it dangerous is when it is absolute.

So, don’t be loyal. Be principled. And stand by people who need help, because that is the right thing to do!

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About the Blogger:

Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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