And in the same way, too many members of past and present Administrations forget what their loyalty to their hero and his party and all the combination represented. Result: today's bizarre bazaar.
It seems that the institutional loyalty we have let run out of the tub was not such a bad thing. The cornball lump in the throat at the pledge of allegiance, the paternalism of the company office party and the forced camaraderie of the union picnic, the reunions of the original campaigners all contributed to a sense of belonging - of ownership and being owned. There was a line below the bottom line. The organization was something to gripe about but also to be proud of.
O.K., without getting misty-eyed about an organizational past that was not wholly supportive, what do we do to stop the erosion of institututional loyalty? Patriotism may be on the way back in, and influence-peddling on the way out; the place to concentrate is in the business world.
Companies have to recognize that employee loyalty is a substantial asset. That means a new regard for seniority (I never gave that much thought when I was young) and a method of guaranteeing pension and insurance benefits no matter what happens to the company. That will have its costs, but managers will soon have to stop abdicating power to security analysts; a more loyal work force may not show up in the quarterly earnings, but will help the company survive and prosper.
Workers and junior executives in turn will have to stop treating the firm as this year's trampoline to someplace else; the portability of pension benefits is not as important as a stock-purchase plan. Hierarchy is not villainy and networking is not virtue. You don't have to marry the corporation for life, as so many Japanese do, but there is a value to planning an extended cohabitation.
The corporate hero should become the manager who brings along good people and helps the others improve productivity, not the hired hatchet man who characterizes everyone who has been there before him as ''dead wood''; the villain should be the anti- organization man who treads his primrose career path with no respect for corporate character or sense of pride in being part of a worthwhile enterprise.
Sometimes institutional loyalties conflict. A traitor's spouse is torn between an urge to protect the family and a reluctance to injure the country. Many a lawyer and accountant is faced with a tough choice between his client and his profession; this loyalty-to-one's-outfit stuff can be a headbreaker.
But it is a value we ought to start recognizing anew, and teaching again, and demanding of each other. We have two jobs: to make our institutions more worthy of respect, and then to respect them.Continue reading the main story
A person can’t be expected to be loyal to something or someone who is hurting or destroying them, that causes them pain or asks them to go against their personal morals, values or integrity. It also requires the person from whom this blind loyalty is demanded to overlook, ignore or set aside their own ethics and beliefs and replace them with those of the person or group from whom the demand emanates. Such expectation of blind loyalty runs contrary to our fundamental human instinct of self-preservation and results in a loss of self. Indeed, a high price to pay.
Expecting someone to chose another over themselves is akin to demanding an abused spouse stay in a dysfunctional marriage or risk being labeled disloyal or a betrayer. It puts all the blame on the person who has the courage to preserve themselves and end or leave the relationship. Speaking up as a way to defend oneself is simply not a viable option because to those who demand blind loyalty, objecting, or voicing dissent is, in itself, an act of disloyalty. And, it will nearly always be punished.
When one human being treats another badly, abuses them either physically, mentally, psychologically or emotionally, or asks or expects them to engage in behavior that goes against their personal values and/or morals, in essence, they force them to make a choice. Either choose to continue the relationship and suffer in silence in the dysfunctional environment; or, save yourself and preserve your integrity. Sometimes in life we must, for our own well being, choose ourselves or risk loosing our mental health and/or our integrity. This is true whether the dysfunction comes at the hands of a single person or through participation in a group.
When problems arise in groups, effective leaders focus on problem solving strategies in order to explore various ways to make things better. They are willing to open the lines of communication and hear all voices, whether they be concurring or dissenting ones. When this opportunity is not provided or such a mechanism is not in place, it forces a dichotomous decision on the part of the group’s members – me or them; self or the group.
The narcissistic leaders of dysfunctional groups never take responsibility for problems within the group, are not willing to hear the voices of dissent but rather, scapegoat or blame others, and in particular, those who chose to speak up or leave the group to preserve themselves. In this way, these so-called leaders maintain the myth of loyalty on their part and force the label of betrayer on those who chose themselves over the group. It is a convenient way to silence dissent and to vilify those who depart for their own reasons. And, in the twisted mind of these narcissistic leaders, they believe it builds greater loyalty on the part of those who remain. If they can successfully label someone a betrayer, those who remain will focus on that person rather than on the dysfunction of the group. It also sends a strong message to the members of the group; give us blind loyalty or be punished.
Betrayal is a loaded word, especially when ones only choice is to betray another or to betray yourself. How can a person be expected to maintain their loyalty when doing so is injurious to them, their integrity, mental, psychological, emotional, and in certain circumstances, physical well being? Either way, the person who is forced to make this choice looses.
Some people like to use the phrase “The magic mirror is always at work” to describe the relationships between people. E.g., if I am feeling distant from my friend, they must be feeling distant from me. If I am not feeling heard by my friend, they must not be feeling heard by me. If indeed there is such a “magic mirror,” then it necessarily follows that when one person labels another “betrayer,” the one being so labeled also feels betrayed by the person labeling them.
Fundamental fairness dictates, at the very least, that the people being accused be given the opportunity to defend themselves; to speak their truth. Aren’t all of us innocent until proven guilty? Doesn’t justice, truth, honesty and love, yes love, demand that the accused betrayer be given a chance to tell their story? And as we all know, no story is one sided. If you love someone, or profess to love them, shouldn’t you treat them with respect and dignity? Shouldn’t you care about what they are feeling or have to say? Or do you act as judge, jury and executioner and condemn the person you allegedly love and demand their voice, which may be one of dissent, remain silent? Do you threaten punishment in the absence of blind loyalty? If speaking up and telling the truth is considered an act of disloyalty, that speaks volumes about the person or group who requires silence as an act of loyalty. This is, at the very least, hypocrisy, and at most tyranny.
The bottom line is that it isn’t right, fair or just to expect any of us to give blind loyalty to someone or something that is toxic, dishonest or unethical, or not what it purports to be. Moreover, it is even more dishonest to silence the voices of dissent. The “magic mirror” is a myth, a convenient excuse used to justify bad behavior. A person who refuses to give blind loyalty to another or to an organization is not a betrayer but simply a person who made a choice that was best for them, to preserve themselves, their well being and in some cases their integrity. We all have freedom of choice and in the end, we are the only ones who can protect and preserve ourselves. We can’t, and shouldn’t, expect others to do it for us. Nor should we be punished for exercising our free will, or, our freedom of speech.
Felix Frankfurter, the Supreme Court Justice, perhaps said it best: “Those who begin cohersive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.”
Posted in Group Dynamics, Human Relations, Mental Health, Relationships| Tagged communication, Group Dynamics, Loyalty, Narcissism, Relationships|