Is Loyalty a virtue?

Sita asked Ram thus. People familiar with the Ramayana and the protagonists of this epic would time and again be baffled with this question.

What is loyalty and how does one define it?

Is it faith or faithfulness? Is it unconditional acceptance? Or is it to blindly follow?

The power to correct, the freedom to express, and the desire and willingness to do so are essential conditions to define loyalty.

Too often I am asked to address the problem of employees’ ‘not speaking in meetings, client interactions or even make a simple presentation to a small audience’. The Leaders who want this problem solved mean ‘not speaking’ but not ‘speaking up’.

The Leader wants the subordinate to speak but inherently it is ‘speak what he wants to hear’. Naturally, he gets a nod (verbal or non-verbal) in agreement. How many Leaders find it a hassle when opposed? Almost all.

Every Leader culturally is in denial as far as ‘participative decision-making’ is concerned. He wants it to look participative but in effect it will be convenient if it is a concurrence of what he says.  The day that changes, speaking in meetings and client interactions will also change. The ‘Lack of Time’ and ‘Deadlines Approaching’ Factors are just an excuse.

The problem(s) of language, social inhibition, nervousness, confidence, technical knowledge, inefficiency, lack of dedication, hard work, and loyalty are secondary. All these can be learned and will definitely disappear the moment you know your boss (sorry, Leader) listens to you instead of ‘hearing you out’.

Getting back to the question of loyalty. Loyalty is conditional. Loyalty is faith more than faithfulness. Loyalty has to be earned by the recipient and not the giver.

If an employee has to remain loyal to his job, to his organization he has to have the answer to his prime question, ‘What’s in it for me?’

Blind faith is not there even to God, how did you think it would be to a Leader or the organization?

Leadership is a two-way street: Loyalty up and Loyalty down. Respect for one’s superiors; Care for one’s crew.

To end with Sita and Ram of Ramayana, though a married couple, Ram was the boss here. Clearly Sita’s best interests were never the priority for Ram. Yet Sita was loyal to Ram all through and Ram was (en) able (d) to be loyal to his Family and Subjects only because of Sita’s loyalty to him in spite of a lack of reciprocative loyalty from Ram. Sita’s unconditional faith and faithfulness enabled Ram to be successful. ‘What’s in it for me’ in absentia. And therein lies the paradox.

To make it more baffling, here’s what Sita said: Ram is dependable, hence God. I am independent, hence Goddess.

But we are mere mortals, boss and subordinate. Let’s play the cat and mouse game instead!!!!!


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