Myth #1: People are loyal to a cause, not a
Sure, there are people who are fiercely loyal to a cause -- but it
was a leader who motivated them to their cause. The opening line of
Daniel Goleman's book, Primal Leadership, says, "Great leaders move
us." How true that is. Causes have no voices without the people who
Myth #2: Charismatic leaders create
If someone possesses a convincing, confident, and compelling air,
we may think that person charismatic and easy to follow. Typically
people follow charismatic leaders because -- let's face it --
they're cool. It's an initial asset to have a welcoming,
delightful, and fun personality. These people move us to action.
Even so, building loyalty -- not a following -- takes more
than charisma. My experience has taught me that charismatic leaders
tend to flicker out over time rather than build momentum. Charisma
alone isn't enough to build, breed, and sustain loyalty over time.
The leader who makes careful, consistent, and correct choices over
time is the one who builds loyalty.
Myth #3: Creating loyalty is manipulating
This depends on your definition of manipulation. To me,
manipulation is when I get you to do something for me or my cause
that only benefits me. Motivation is when I compel you to do
something that benefits us both and the cause we represent.
So where does the rubber meet the road? Right here! To write
this article, I visited with some of my staff and volunteers who've
served with me for many years and asked them a question I've never
asked before. I'll be honest -- doing so took a little courage and
vulnerability! I simply asked, "Why are you loyal to me?"
The following are five principles taken from their responses to
help you build your team's loyalty to you.
Principle #1: Know where you're going and how to get
Some people call this vision, some call it leadership, and some
call it "the ability to hide your panic well." I believe it's all
three. As I talked with my leaders and volunteers, I found that
they perceive that I have an uncanny ability to "know the future."
The reality is, nobody knows the future. This is about making your
best decision about the direction you and your team should go and
sticking to it.
Proverbs 29:18 in God's Word Translation of
the Bible says, "Without prophetic vision people run wild, but
blessed are those who follow God's teachings." Boldness in your
direction is a building block for loyalty.
Principle #2: Grow and push yourself.
You don't know everything -- no one does. And if you refuse to
stretch yourself, you stagnate. Your words and actions carry great
weight, and your team is watching you. People who view their leader
as a learner have a deeper sense of loyalty. Leaders who work hard
to stretch themselves and their teams inspire respect and
Principle #3: Deal with adversity like a
Difficulty is a part of life. It's been said that God is more
interested in our character than our comfort. How leaders handle
difficulty while immersed in it and while emerging from it is a
trust builder or buster among their teams.
Principle #4: Handle -- don't hide -- mistakes and their
We all make mistakes. How we handle them in front of others can
make or break your team's loyalty. An authentic hand up in the air
and loud voice proclaiming, "I made the mistake and I take
ownership for it" does a lot more for trust building than pointing
that same arm out to blame others. Loyalty is built not when you
make the great and easy decisions but rather when you take
ownership for the poor ones.
Principle #5: Build a proven track
The other day I watched Tiger Woods in a playoff against Stewart
Cink. Big surprise, Tiger won…again. I enjoy golf. I play about
once a week, and you know, I haven't gotten much better over the
last two years. I'm in a rut-an average golfer with an average
handicap. Each time I miss a fairly easy shot or putt, I turn to my
friend Ron and say, "Ron, do you know the only difference between
Tiger Woods and me? Consistent performance over time."
The only difference between Tiger and me is repeated, consistent
performance over time in golf. In other words, he makes many more
pars and birdies in a row than I do. Tiger is famously,
This is the bottom line in leadership, too. Leaders with a loyal
team have a proven track record of right choices concerning people,
vision, mission, and values for the team over time. And when they
goof, they refer to Principle #4.
Remember what the children of Israel said: "If you are strong and
brave, we will obey you as we obeyed Moses. We'll even put to death
anyone who rebels against you or refuses to obey you."
Now, I don't recommend the death part, but you can see what people
will do for their leader if -- yes, if -- they trust that leader.
Are you willing to answer the "ifs" when it comes to your team?
Craig Jutila is the children's pastor for Saddleback Church
in Lake Forest, California, author of numerous books, including
2-Minute Encouragers for Teachers (Group), and founder of EmpoweringKids.net and HadassahsHope.org.