Business Spotlight Audio 4/2022
    Arm wrestling

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    David Ingram: Bob, Woodrow Wilson once said, “Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.” What is the link between loyalty and self-sacrifice for you?

    Bob Dignen: I think a way to answer that question is to understand that loyalty often comes into play when we have to take difficult decisions, where we’re to face sth.etw. gegenüberstehenfacing the dilemma between self-sacrifice or following our own interest. A good example of that is maybe when we’re facing a new job opportunity. Do we stick with the person or the organization which trusted us, which supported us and helped us to growhier: sich (weiter)entwickelngrow? Or do we to abandon sb./sth.sich von jmdm./etw. abwendenabandon them and follow a new path which is best for us? It kind of illustrates quite clearly that self-sacrifice and loyalty come together at precisely that moment. Do we go for the future, for us, or do we somehow stick with the past and recognize that others helped us reach where we are?

    David: I see. That makes sense. And how important is loyalty for leaders in the current business climate?

    Bob: Well, I think the example we just talked about connects to this. I mean if you look at the newspapers, it seems that we are living in the age of the Great Resignation. You know, millions and millions of people are currently to turn one's back on sb.jmdm. den Rücken kehrenturning their backs on employers and colleagues and looking for new opportunities. And this kind of fluctuation is extremely difficult for companies and leaders to handle. It to disrupt sth.etw. störendisrupts operations, quality of service to customers, etc.

    So, somehow inspiring loyalty to stay, I think, is really top of mind for many leaders at the moment. And the funny thing is the the inversedas Umgekehrte, das Entgegengesetzeinverse — showing loyalty to employees from leaders — is also very important because, in times of economic crisis and disruptionStörung, tiefgreifender Wandeldisruption, it’s very easy simply to focus on costs and to fire people. But that form of disloyalty to employees is going to damage trust. And then the employee — what are they going to do? They’re going to start looking for a new job and then you’re into the business of fluctuation. So, you can see loyalty is an extremely important glueKleber, Bindemittelglue, which keeps employers and employees connected and actually, at the end of the day, has financial implicationAuswirkung, Folgeimplications for how profitable organizations can be.

    David: Ah, right. Where should leaders’ loyalty lie in your opinion?

    Bob: Well the interesting thing with loyalty is that there are actually different loyalties to different stakeholderInteressengruppestakeholders. I mean leaders, of course, generally have their own leaders who eventually have shareholderAktionär(in)shareholders or family owners as the ultimateletztendlich; hier: oberste(r,s)ultimate kind of stakeholder. And in a certain sense, these people who own the company, who pay your salary, you could to argue that...behaupten, dass...argue that they claim the ultimate loyalty. However, there are also other types of stakeholders. There’s the customer, and some people, particularly those who work in sales, are very, very focused on customers and even companies have slogans like “customer comes first”. So, is the customer the one who demands loyalty? Or is it your internal leader? And then, of course, you have more abstract concepts like profitabilityRentabilität, Wirtschaftlichkeitprofitability. Do we show loyalty to that, or do we show loyalty to ethics? And, of course, employees working in difficult, or maybe even toxic, organizations face that dilemma: should I whistle-blow about the wrongdoing that I see in my organization? Or is my ultimate loyalty to my organization, to profitability? I think one of the challenges with loyalty is understanding that we’re pulled in different directions and actually deciding where ultimate loyalty lies, that’s a little bit the challenge.

    David: And I’ve got one last question for you, Bob. What are the dangers of demanding loyalty of your employees in your opinion?

    Bob: I mean it may sound like a strange question, “What are the dangers of demanding loyalty?”, but I believe there are actually quite a few dangers. I mean firstly, and this also relates to leaders who quite commonly ask their staff to be bold, to show trust, to show openness, because if you’re kind of demanding obvious things like this, it kind of sounds like you doubt that it’s there. So, you know, when you demand loyalty, what are you actually saying? Because it sounds like you’re saying that you believe that there’s a risk staff will be disloyal, which isn’t exactly showing trust in people. So, demanding things always has this risk. Secondly, I think going back to the job offer, for example, if I demand loyalty to me, to my needs, and basically ask you to to turn sth. downetw. ablehnenturn down the job opportunity which is good for you, well, that sounds rather selfisheigennützig, egoistischselfish, doesn’t it?

    Isn’t the job of leadership at a certain level to encourage people to move up and on and not to keep them to keep sb. rooted in sth.hier: jmdn. unveränderlich in etw. haltenrooted in jobs which are below their potential? And then, maybe finally, and this is a very, very deep problem in modern organisation today if I ask you to show loyalty to your job, to your departmentAbteilungdepartment rather than, for example, that irritating international project run by headquartersZentraleheadquarters which is eating your time, am I actually asking you to do the right thing? To show loyalty in the right place? Because if I ask you to focus on your job, maybe that’s good for me, it’s good for my KPI (key performance indicator)LeistungskennzahlKPIs, my key performance indicators, but maybe the company as a whole loses. So, I think from a leadership point of view, I think you really have to ask yourself when you want to ask for loyalty. Are you justified to do that? And do it in the right way very, very carefully.

    David: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me about this, Bob. I really to appreciate sth.etw. (zu) schätzen (wissen)appreciate it.

    Bob: Thank you very much.

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