Brunorbs/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: Brunorbs/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

If you’ve ever lived with a dog you understand what loyalty looks like. Dogs are the most loyal creatures I’ve ever seen. They remember us even after long periods of absence. They welcome us at the door no matter what our disposition is. They forgive us when we let them down. Dogs are there for us even when we don’t deserve it.

They desire relationships. They live for relationships. That’s what makes them so special.

Where did loyalty go?

I am often asked, “What happened to loyalty?” as if it no longer exists. My reaction is similar to that of a dog: “Huh? What are you talking about?” Loyalty is as strong today as it ever has been. What may be different is our understanding of what loyalty is and what it is based on.

Loyalty is the result of a relationship that has been developed over time — one where there is a deep emotional connection. If a relationship is shallow or nonexistent, there’s no reason to contemplate loyalty being anywhere in the picture. It is simply a false assumption that another person would be loyal to you if there’s no deep emotional connection.

I see many great examples of loyal relationships today. In the context of client/vendor relations, I see companies creating deep long-lasting relationships with clients that are able to withstand the ups and downs of seasonal changes, economic shifts and global pandemics. These relationships were cultivated over time. They are strong.

In the context of employee/employer relationships, I also see many fantastic examples of fierce loyalty from the employer to the employee and vice-versa. In the same way, these relationships take time to build. They don’t just happen and they don’t happen quickly.

It’s also important to realize that loyalty only goes so far. When trust has been violated in some highly-egregious way or repeatedly, all bets are off. In addition, loyalty is very personal in nature. Our loyalty may be to an individual, not to a corporation.

When a good worker leaves

A good example of this is when an individual goes to a different corporation. Let’s say I’m a property manager for a commercial portfolio and you are the account manager assigned to my portfolio. We develop a great relationship over time, both professionally and personally.

If either one of us changes employers, our relationship will not end. Our personal relationship will remain intact. And our business relationship may also remain intact, although it may take some time to make that happen. If you move to a new employer and I follow you, your old employer may cry out that “loyalty is dead!” because your old employer lost you and me. But loyalty is actually alive and well. Our loyalty is to each other, where the relationship is, not to each other’s employers.

The bottom line is that loyalty is all about deep personal relationships. Let’s start our discussions about loyalty with that as a foundation, and let’s all make an attempt to spend more time investing in our relationships. A life encased in loyalty is much more rewarding.

Now go forth.

This article is tagged with , and posted in Blog, Expert Insights

About the Author:

Phil Harwood is a Senior Advisor with Tamarisk Business Advisors. Contact him at

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