Recently I read a very interesting book by Timothy Keiningham and Lerzan Aksoy entitled “Why Loyalty Matters“. They make the claim, supported by what they call “the most comprehensive study of loyalty ever conducted”, that “when it comes to business success, satisfaction in our relationships and even overall happiness, loyalty is essential”.
But here’s the rub – it appears loyalty has long lost its luster with us humans, particularly in the last 50 years.
Just look at job loyalty, for example – Keiningham and Aksoy note that us baby boomers hold nearly 10 different jobs during our careers. That’s a huge increase from the generations that preceded us.
Then there’s person-to-person loyalty – those bonds of true friendship that last through thick and thin. Alas, that hasn’t fared to well either – the book cited that “the number and quality of friendships for the average American has been declining since at least 1985. In fact, 25 % of Americans report having no close friends in whom they could confide things that were important to them. And the average total number of confidants per person is only two” (it was 3 only 20 years ago).
Combine all this with how we’ve evolved as consumers, jumping from good to good and service to service with much regularity, and it begs a question:
Where, oh where has our loyalty gone?
And that question begets another one:
Does it really matter if we’ve lost it?
Keiningham and Aksoy argue quite strongly in the book that it does matter, and we make the climb to happiness and fulfillment oh so much harder because of these “lost” loyalties.
From a personal perspective, admittedly I had not given much thought to the concept of loyalty and its importance, so in that respect, it didn’t seem to matter to me. I’ve had several jobs, I’ve been a “jumping” consumer, and because I’ve moved around a lot I don’t have as much contact as I’d prefer with many of the friends I’ve made through the years. On top of that, there’s the whole Social Media thing – where I’d say I have a whole cornucopia of relationship depths.
It seemed like loyalty wasn’t that big of a deal for me – but yet I was still curious about Keiningham and Aksoy’s arguments.
As part of their continuing research, the book asked me to fill out what they call a “Loyalty Assessment” to see how much capacity for loyalty I have (or don’t have), particularly in comparison to all their other research subjects.
I took the survey. Out of 10 “building blocks” of building relationships (and thus loyalty) I “over-indexed” in 3 categories: leadership, empathy, and connectedness.
In general, I was characterized as “being in control of myself and my surroundings, motivated to achieve success, having a comfort level interacting with others, and not afraid to take risks“. I also have a “tendency to adopt a more flexible outlook, and to accept and appreciate people for who they are“. Lastly, I valued my tight and close connections with family and friends.
It was an “ah-ha” moment when I read those results. Turns out, my loyalties are still “there” – they’re just buried a bit. And loyalty does matter to me.
So the authors were right- even though I think I’m handling life pretty darn well, I could be even happier – if I take heed of my key building blocks and use them to build greater loyalties.
And that’s the hallmark of a darn good book – something that gets you to that “ah-ha!“.
Read this book and take the test yourself, and see how loyalty matters to you.