You know your economics and so you already know what I’m about to say. The Marxist critique of the ruling class—he called it the “class which rules”—is that it exploits the workers, that it manipulates political power for its own good, and that it oppresses the lower classes and leaves them mired in misery and lack.
Now, I’m the furthest thing from a Marxist, but there is truth here. Unless a nobler set of values prevails, employees can be seen as mere tools in the eyes of owners. The entire enterprise can be conducted for the good of the owners and upper classes alone. The good of the employee can be ignored, with little regard for his/her health, prosperity, legacy, and capacity for investing in society as a whole.
I do not believe this is a critique of the free market. It is a critique of unwise business and deformed human beings.
We’ve learned some new and valuable lessons today. We’ve learned that a company thrives as it invests in its team members. We’ve learned that you cannot make money from people unless you are willing for people to make money from you—one of the great Guinness principles. We’ve learned that part of the impact a company makes in the world is through the lives of its employees. We’ve also learned that prosperous, educated, happy, thriving individuals make for a prosperous, wise, joyful, advancing company.
The old Marxist critique may have had some virtue, but it is being made obsolete by the greater wisdom of our time—as the employee thrives, so thrives the company or organization he or she serves.
So it all comes down to one word: loyalty. I love this word. I love this concept. Ask me about the one virtue I most admire and I’ll tell you it is loyalty. I love seeing people devoted to each other. I love the emotional compact that is earned over time between husband and wife, between two friends, between business partners, among people devoted together to a great task. It is loyalty. A devotion to each other’s good. A refusal to betray or undermine. It is the fuel of all great success. It is also what launches magnificent legacies.
So here is my simple question. Are you loyal to those who work for you? Are you loyal to your team members? In fact, are you loyal to those you work for? This is one of the questions that will most determine your success.
Don’t think of loyalty as willful blindness to moral wrongdoing. Don’t think of it as ignoring the need for improvement or flaws. No, loyalty is a kind of constructive devotion. It is an utter investment in the good of the other. Loyalty to those who work for you means you care deeply for their wellbeing, you want every area of their lives to thrive, you are paying well, assuring good benefit, providing incentives, crafting services that elevate and liberate, and helping to fashion legacies that will survive for generations.
Are you loyal to those who work for you? Are you loyal to those you work for? Are you loyal to your customers? Are you loyal to your family, even to yourself?
Loyalty is a big, rich, full-bodied word. Ponder it. Turn it over and over again in your mind. Use it as a lens through which to view all you do. Make it a measure of how you treat those around you.
I want this said at my funeral: He was a loyal man. I hope you do too.