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As Hurricane Irma proved, loyalty is all about your teammates

People talk about being loyal to their company, but what does that mean? Or what should it mean? Loyal to the brand? Loyal to their boss? Loyal to their colleagues?

Each of those things are important, but I believe there’s a hierarchy of loyalty and the brand and boss aren’t at the top. Your relationship with your teammates is. The more connected you are to your peers, and the more you feel like you don’t want to let the next person down, the more ownership you’ll take in your company. Great teams from the Olympics to the Super Bowl to the Fortune 500 list are all about making sure they don’t let their wingmen down.

This lesson was brought home in a big way this weekend when Hurricane Irma slammed into south Florida. After ripping through the Caribbean with higher sustained wind speeds than any Atlantic hurricane ever, Irma caused ripples of panic in Florida as it got near to the coast.

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The most effective and impactful planners weren’t only motivated by their desire to keep themselves and their own families safe. They were driven by a desire to help their neighbors escape the worst of the damage. And the communities that worked together were the best off after the hurricane did its damage.

Because I believe when we’re loyal to our peers and teammates, we take ownership of the company’s success on a more motivational level.

As the hurricane loomed over Florida, the Orlando Sentinel picked up on a number of stories of neighbors helping neighbors in the days before it arrived. In one instance, a woman posted on a social media site that she wouldn’t be able to get sandbags to help secure her house. A day later, two men showed up at her house with four bags full of sand. A real estate broker helped move loose items off the lawns of local homes to help elderly families. And two Orlando locals helped put plywood boards over the windows of a local salon owned by a friend.

“We’re supposed to help each other,” the salon owner told the Orlando Sentinel. “We’re all human beings. And I would do the same for them.”

What would life be like if we all stepped in to get referrals when sales were down? Or if operations had a big project and everyone pitched in 30 minutes after work instead of two people working through the night?

What a refreshing frame of mind. This is what teamwork looks like when both supporting and working with and for your peers becomes your primary concern. The motivation to stay loyal to your peers is that much stronger because you work and live alongside them every day. When your loyalty is wrapped up in the success of your peers as well as your own, your team becomes as strong as titanium.

Are you loyal to your paycheck? Of course. You need to feed your family, after all. To the company brand? Absolutely. Without that knowledge you can’t represent your company. How about to the owner’s strategy? Yep. And to your coach? You can’t grow personally and professionally without also being coachable.

All those things are important in one way or another, in ascending order, but they’re part of a pyramid. And at the top of that pyramid is your loyalty to your peers. If you strive not to let down your team members on either side of you, not only will the company grow, but so will you.

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