Leaders inspire many feelings in their teams: reverence, obedience, respect. But how many leaders can honestly say they feel a strong sense of loyalty from their team? In the modern workplace, some would even argue loyalty is dead. The often-cited argument is the high turnover rate for workers in today's world. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 31 percent of U.S. adults have changed jobs in the past three years. Moreover, 93 percent of these same respondents claim that they left their current company when changing roles.
What does this mean for loyalty? While some professionals are quick to write off good old company allegiance as a thing of the past, the truth is that loyalty has just taken a new form. Professionals can be loyal to their leaders while still being transient employees. In fact, Fast Company argued that these high turnover rates mean loyalty is simply more of a commodity.
So, what exactly do leaders who inspire loyalty do? Let's take a look at the five defining traits of loyalty-generating leaders.
"How many leaders can honestly say they feel a strong sense of loyalty from their team?"
They are always honest: Maintaining an open line of communication is a crucial aspect of inspiring loyalty. Entrepreneur contributor Murray Newlands asserts that honesty achieves two major results. For starters, it creates strong business relationships via confidence and trust. Nothing says "I have full faith in my team" better than complete and total honesty. Second, open communication creates a culture of inclusion. Every member of your staff, regardless of status, is on the same page about what is going on. In order to conjure loyalty, executives must demonstrate a commitment to honesty.
They know their staff: One of the best ways to create a devoted staff is to make an effort to get to know them. We don't mean just names and positions. Do they have kids? How many? Did they get married last month? Where? The more effort you put into forming a personal relationship with your team, the more connected you will all become. Forbes contributor Carol Kinsey Goman recalled meeting a manager who knew at least one personal detail about all 125 of her employees. This was a standout quality and when Goman asked the woman how she managed to do that for such a large staff, her response was simple. "That's my job," she remarked. Forming a bond beyond business creates a strong connection and loyal leaders make this a priority.
They lead by example: You know the mantra: Practice what you preach. Well, leaders who influence loyalty among their team have mastered this to a T. Workers entering the workforce today are unwilling to work for executives who they do not respect, reported Fast Company. And nothing inspires minimal respect among younger generations more than a hypocrite. This means leaders should not abuse their personal power by requiring one thing of their employees while holding themselves to a different standard. Authenticity in leadership is a requirement when seeking out loyalty. Inspire your team through your actions and their allegiance will surely follow.
They genuinely trust their team: Want to know the quickest way to destroy loyalty? Micromanage everything your team does. Leaders who are constantly stifling employee's freedom throughout projects are the poster children for disloyal employees. In order to gain trust, you must first dole it out. This will not only earn you loyalty points but also has the potential to inspire harder and better work from your team members, explained Newlands. Let them know you are sure of their skills and you expect excellence, then let go of the wheel. We promise, your employees will rise to your standards.
They value professional growth: Your position yields a lot of personal power and if you don't use that to influence your team's professional development then chances are you will not earn any semblance of loyalty. The best bosses are on constant lookout for ways to advance their team's development, asserted Fast Company. In fact, the leading cause of employee turnover is the notion that there are better and bigger development opportunities at other companies. Leaders looking to foster loyalty should provide constant mentorship to their staff – whether that means one-on-one conversations or team training trips. Remember, an investment in your team is an investment in your business – a true win-win scenario.
Embodying the above traits is a sure-fire path to a loyal team. And in a world where turnover is high, these skills are of the utmost important. As a leader you should constantly be aiming to inspire a loyal community of workers as this provides a stronger and more trusting work environment. Focus on these high-caliber business relationships and success will surely follow.