Loyalty Binds Us

Gary Dean
Gary Dean

By Gary Dean, managing director of strategic consultancy, Truffle Pig Consulting Co.

Throughout history, mottos have served as succinct expressions of ethos and identity for individuals, institutions, and nations.

They provide a lens into the values, aspirations, and beliefs of their bearers.

One such profound motto which I find of great interest and motivation is, ‘Loyalty binds us’, which is attributed to King Richard III of England, one of the most enigmatic figures in British history. This motto, contained in its brevity, encloses a rich tapestry of meaning that elucidates Richard’s reign, personal philosophy, and the turbulent times he lived in.

Firstly, it is essential to understand why this motto may seem odd to us in 2023 – we need the context in which King Richard III ascended to the throne. His reign, from 1483 to 1485, was a brief yet tumultuous one, marking the end of both the Yorkist reign and the Wars of the Roses. Amid this era of political instability, I believe that Richard III’s motto can be seen as a plea for unity and stability.

‘Loyalty’ in its medieval context, holds a dual significance. It encompasses both the fealty of a subject to their sovereign and the obligation of a sovereign to protect and guide their subjects.

For Richard III, it represented the mutual bonds of obligation that should exist within a kingdom. It served as a call to his subjects for loyalty towards him as their monarch, while simultaneously signalling his commitment to acting in their best interests.

The second part of the motto, ‘binds us’, further underlines the concept of mutual obligation. The choice of the word ‘binds’ suggests a strong, unbreakable connection, much like a solemn oath or vow. It implies that this bond of loyalty is not merely a societal expectation, but a moral and ethical duty, a sacred thread that holds society together.

I also think it sheds light on Richard III’s personal beliefs and his understanding of kingship. Richard was a firm believer in the idea of the king as the nation’s protector.

On a deeper level, Richard’s motto can be viewed as an early humanist perspective, emphasising interconnectedness, mutual respect, and the bonds of community. It posits loyalty as the glue that holds society together, a bond that is vital for the health and prosperity of the kingdom.

It reminded everyone of their shared obligations and the importance of unity for the wellbeing of the nation. The message remains relevant today, reminding us of the enduring values of loyalty, community, and mutual respect.

In today’s business world, and in our private lives too, we might struggle with the concept of loyalty.

The opposite of this is of course, disloyalty.

At this time of year, special for many, I wanted to wrap up by writing about navigating disloyalty in business and the power of forgiveness.

Trust is a commodity that is both precious and fragile. When breaches occur – disloyalty from colleagues, partners, or employees – they can leave a lasting imprint on the trust fabric of an organisation. However, forgiveness has emerged as a compelling strategy for managing disloyalty.

Forgiveness is often misunderstood as ignoring transgressions or condoning negative behaviour – this it is not.

In a business context, it’s about recognising the breach, understanding its implications, then choosing to move past it in a constructive way. By forgiving, we choose to sever the chains that bind us to the past, enabling ourselves and others to learn, grow, and rebuild trust.

By showing a willingness to forgive, real leaders demonstrate that their employees are valued beyond their mistakes. This fosters an environment of psychological safety, where individuals feel confident to take risks, innovate, and voice their opinions without fear of retribution.

High-pressure environments can often lead to mistakes. Forgiveness creates a space where individuals are not paralysed by the fear of reprisals.

Forgiveness can act as a salve on the wounds left by conflicts, reducing resentment and tension within the team.

The process of forgiving disloyalty is not easy, it involves a nuanced understanding of the circumstances and the individuals involved.

Unassumingly, I suggest some steps that might help guide you through the process if you must confront disloyalty.

Establish a dialogue with the individual who has been disloyal. Understand their perspective and share your feelings about their actions. This paves the way for empathy and understanding.

Not all acts of disloyalty are equal. Sometimes, they can be a result of miscommunication or misunderstanding. Other times, they might stem from personal issues or external pressures. Take these factors into account before making a judgment.

Forgiveness is not about absolving someone of responsibility. The individual who has committed the act of disloyalty should own their actions and show genuine remorse.

There may still be consequences for disloyalty, but they should be fair and aim towards restoration rather than retribution.

Forgiveness is rarely a one-time event. Maintain open lines of communication, regularly reassess the situation, and offer support where necessary.

Forgiving disloyalty in business can be a daunting task. It demands emotional intelligence, courage, and a commitment to maintaining a healthy organisational culture.

However, the benefits that forgiveness brings – trust, improved performance, and reduced conflict – are invaluable assets for any business.

As we navigate the complexities of human relations in business, forgiveness stands out as a potent tool for transformation and growth. I wish you all a very enjoyable December holidays.