Like mercy, the quality of loyalty is not strained. That means it cannot be forced out of anyone. Loyalty is always based on mutually-beneficial relationships, actual or perceived. Not only that, loyalty is an attitude of desiring the good of the person or entity that one is loyal to. Even symbiotic relationships do not necessarily demonstrate the existence of loyalty. For instance, a cleaner wrasse and larger fish have a symbiotic relationship. The larger fish get themselves cleaned by the cleaner wrasse, with all the health benefits that produces, and the cleaner wrasse get a great meal. Win-win situation. Would the larger fish eat the cleaner wrasse if food becomes scarce? Would the wrasse actually tear off chunks of flesh from the larger fish if those larger fish happen to have clean teeth, mouth and gills due to lack of food? I don’t know, but I have ceased to be liberal with interjections like “Impossible!” After all, if deer eat fish, why wouldn’t cleaner wrasse and their clients eat each other when food is scarce?
So, loyalty, like many other qualities, depends not only on the existence of a mutually-beneficial relationship, but on the degree of benevolence extended by each entity to the other. The Character First! definition of Loyalty is “Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to those I serve“. If there is a relationship of mutual service, there will also be a heightened degree of loyalty both ways. The provider of goods and services has the benefit of the consumer always at the forefront and the consumer would constantly be giving suggestions for improvement that are beneficial for both.
If you are a provider of goods and services, it would bide you well to take heed. Ignore developing the quality of genuine loyalty at your peril. No amount of so-called “marketing” or “branding” will ever replace the one vital attribute of giving value. Marketing and branding are very important, of course, but fall flat without genuine loyalty. If you are a business leader, are your people loyal to you? How can you enhance their degree of loyalty? First step – demonstrate loyalty yourself! Go with that for a start!