During one of my speaking engagements with the business network, someone asked me, “Are you loyal to Vijay (Eswaran)?” And to that I answered, “No.”
Yes, it surprised everyone and I know it will surprise those of you who are well acquainted with the longstanding partnership I have with Vijay.
I explained: “My loyalty is to truth. Because Vijay upholds the truth, then it follows that my loyalty is with him.”
This is where I would like to take a stand on what I see as true and false loyalty.
One of the most common misconceptions people have when it comes to faithfulness or devotion is that they think loyalty is to a person. This is not right. Loyalty should not be based on personality; otherwise, it could turn into a ‘personality cult’. A personality cult is defined as excessive public admiration for a charismatic person (usually someone famous like an actor, politician, or perhaps sportsperson). Don’t think you are following righteousness or truth when the merits of the person you adulate are not proven.
A leader must be followed not because he is famous, but because he is a follower of the truth. We have seen some people get out-of-hand with eulogising or worshipping people who are no longer on the right path and who start making their own rules for their own vested interests. A classic example of this is the cult following of evangelist preacher Jim Jones who was preaching in the name of Christ in a small community he founded called Jonestown in Guyana, USA. Power began to corrupt him and after allegations of human rights abuse were beginning to be investigated against him, Jones led his followers – about 900 plus – to mass suicide. The extent of this action now constitutes one of the greatest single losses of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster.
There are other disturbing similarities with our present day leaders. Let us not have this blind allegiance to cult personalities. Loyalty must be to broad principles; to universal truth that applies to all and not to a particular sect, religion or group; to basic truth such as refraining from lying, killing, or exploiting. You should be on a constant guard with your leaders, no matter who he or she is. And because we are not perfect and we make mistakes when we are on the wrong path, we must have the willingness to be corrected.
Please take a moment to ponder… The only influence people are open to having is the truth. The truth is always logical, and anyone who follows the truth is consistent. This is the power of the truth.
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd