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Which attribute will you choose; Loyalty or Skills?

Okechukwu Onwuka
Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, you need to cut your losses and move on.

HOWARD SCHULTZ
When employees and employers, even coworkers, have a commitment to one another, everyone benefits. I have people who have been in business with me for decades. I reward their loyalty to the organization and to me. I know that they’ll always be dedicated to what we’re trying to accomplish.-DONALD TRUMP

The highest spiritual quality, the noblest property of mind a man can have, is this of loyalty … a man with no loyalty in him, with no sense of love or reverence or devotion due to something outside and above his poor daily life, with its pains and pleasures, profits and losses, is as evil a case as man can be.- ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE, Ode to Mazzini
The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.MARIO PUZO, The Family
I’ll take fifty percent efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty. SAMUEL GOLDWYN, Marx’s Goldwyn: The Man Behind the Myth

Entrepreneurship and
leadership is all about people. It is the art of choosing or leading a group of people to achieve one objective or another. In choosing people, it is common to look for those with requisite skills, training, education and competence.

Experienced or intuitive leaders also look for other attributes besides skills and on-the-job technical competence. Potential loyalty is one key feature that leaders watch out for. Resumes and CVs rarely ever reveal the extent of a person’s potential for loyalty and commitment. Although longevity in previous jobs may be an indicator but it is never really enough. The psychological and sociological make-up of the typical individual can be extremely complex. There’s no way of telling what is in the mind of another. Spoken words can be deceptive. Promises get broken often.

Motivational speeches hold no guarantees. Company mission statements can sound hollow and make little meaning to the majority. Everyone knows the age old saying that “united we stand, divided we fall” yet getting teams in business and social life to bond remains a challenge.

Leaders and managers must find a way to build teams that has the right blend of skills and competence under a loyalty-defined grid. This challenge for leaders is also not in doubt but the issue for today is what you do when confronted with making a choice between selecting between two people; one is extremely skilled and talented while the other is fiercely loyal but moderately skilled or talented.

It is not uncommon to come across situations that force us to make decisions along these lines. I can’t speak for everybody but I’ll draw on my personal experience. As an employee then, some years ago, during an employee forum where senior directors and managers met with regular employees, an interesting question was asked.

An employee asked the General Manager, Projects why many hard working people were not being promoted! In his response, the manager stated that the expectation from senior management was that every employee recruited is hard working. Hard work and skills was the minimum expectation. He further explained that “promotability” goes beyond hard work. Other factors such as business alignment were considered key inputs in making promotion decisions. He was asked to report for termination any employee who is not hard working. No one was reported.

The lesson was not lost on me. In another example, a very senior executive who was close to being announced as the new CEO of a multinational corporation was bypassed at the last minute because of a grave mistake. During a lunch discussion with the serving CEO, he criticized the company’s age-old performance appraisal system. That doubt was enough to conclude that his loyalty to the company’s system was not total.

As an engineer, I have often found engineers complaining of slow career progression pace. This is often exacerbated when those perceived to be of poor quality technical competence get accelerated promotions at the expense of hard working, competent engineers. My views have been significantly enlightened over the years in executive functions and corporate leadership.

The simple truth is that loyalty weighs far more than skills and competence any day, anytime when it comes to choosing core leadership teams. And the work force too. With loyal people, you can rest from the worry of betrayal or back-stabbing. An average quality decision taken by a united team has far more higher chances for actualization that a high quality decision in the hands of a disunited team. When the chips are down, as will surely happen in any business or effort, loyal people will stick together, fight together and conquer as a team. Skilled and competent people who have no loyalty to the cause will leave for greener pastures at the first sign of trouble. When people are united, even with average level skills, they progress for sure. Under the solid framework they’ve designed and created, more competent or skilled people can be recruited to join the team. Organizational cultures differ.

Mission statements also differ. And we must all accept that not everyone will share in our vision or mission as leaders or managers. Developing a loyal team does not happen overnight. Accept that it will take time but keep true to your culture and vision while using every skill and resource to identify, nurture and retain loyal employees who share in your vision. One loyal employee is worth more than a thousand talented but disloyal employees. As advised by HOWARD SCHULTZ, when you realize you’ve made a hiring mistake, cut your losses and move on.

At the lowest point of the crisis that hit our group some years ago, two people remained fiercely loyal and committed all through. Even at the risk of great personal losses and harm, they stuck with me. Engr. Nyerhovwon Bekibele and Ijeoma Nwanya gave to me what all the skills, talent and competencies in the world cannot give.

I thank the good Lord who used them to shield me from the elements. My wife, Adora Agnes, is the best partner a man can ever ask or wish for. At all times, I am fully assured of her support, prayers and companionship, at home, in business and in service. How can I ask for more?


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.