Can you be too loyal?
Several months ago, I had a long-term relationship implode. It completely derailed. Relationships mean the world to me. My best friend is someone I met in the 6th grade, and we are still besties today. Soon, I’ll be celebrating my 20th Anniversary with my amazing husband Patrick. I’ve been fortunate to have so many long-lasting, wonderful relationships in my life. So, when this one blew up it was a shock. In sorting through the hurt, pain, and frustration of the loss, I’ve learned much.
Much of my learning has been about how I can be better for others. I’ve looked for the clear ways I was wrong and where my behaviors and actions in the relationship were less than best. I’ve tried to look at their side of things too. When a trusted relationship ends, both parties are “at fault” for sure. Yet one area of learning has been about discovering a surprising gap of mine. I’m recognizing that I tend to over strength on loyalty.
I think it’s common for us to think of loyalty as a positive virtue. Perhaps, we connect it to trust and commitment. Yet in this post-pandemic era of change and evolution, we must be cautious in giving loyalty where it’s not reciprocated. And that means we need to notice when we are in a “one-way” loyalty relationship with another person or even an employer. We also must be aware when our expectation of loyalty is holding someone else back from opportunity, innovation, or growth.
I encourage you to not be blinded by loyalty. If you’ve ever found yourself in one of these situations:
- Staying in a relationship with someone who doesn’t treat you well,
- Keeping an employee on your team because you like them, yet they aren’t meeting performance standards,
- Waiting and waiting for that promotion or raise your manager keeps saying is coming soon,
- Failing to positively support someone who is moving on to an exciting new chapter,
- Giving increasingly more of your time and energy to a cause, an organization, or a person without a positive return of effort,
- Realizing that someone is actively holding you back from pursuing better opportunities.
You are likely putting loyalty ahead of your well-being. Don’t put yourself in a position to learn the truth of where loyalty lies in your relationships too late. That’s a recipe for hurt, loss, and missed expectations. Stay open and aware. And perhaps most importantly, don’t blindly choose loyalty over all else. With many leadership traits, like service, integrity, and compassion, we can give in abundance with no expectations. I am learning loyalty is different. Give loyalty in balance with how it is shared with you.
— Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch are Lead Star’s co-founders, leadership coaches, and the bestselling authors of SPARK, Leading from the Front, and Bet on You. They help professionals reach new levels of success through their innovative coaching program, Year to Rise.