The Loyalty Code

March 26, 2019 12:43 pm Published by Comments Off on The Loyalty Code

April 2019 

Sherri K Baldwin


We believe there are only six viable patterns of management and leadership behaviors that exist and we all tend to gravitate toward one of them. One in particular is known as The Godfather, or “the Boss,” otherwise referred to in our lingo as the Sentinel, meaning one who stands as if watching (i.e. watching over the family). The Sentinel would seek prestige over money and greater influence over power, however, they often have money and power by virtue of their position of influence.

The Sentinel views those who report to them as their family or team family, and respect, trust and loyalty are the cornerstones of those relationships. Honoring those codes is not an option, it is a requirement for membership in the family. In other words, the team is above all and if you break any of the family/team codes, you are no longer worthy of this team and there will be consequences. You have lost your “membership” and it is tough, if not virtually impossible, to regain. In other words, the consequence for real or perceived disloyalty can be a “hand slap” in the form of removing benefits you have previously enjoyed, such as attending association meetings in exotic locations or being assigned the best clients, or it can be as extreme as being removed from your position. If you work with this pattern, these codes are understood. However, there is a quid-pro-quo when you are loyal. They reward those who demonstrate loyalty. Perhaps the quid-pro-quo comes through a promotion and entrusting with increased responsibility or through gifts for your family (i.e. tickets to the ball game or a nice dinner for you and your spouse, etc). However, any indication of disloyalty can be detrimental to your career. 

Sentinels exhibit an implied power, which is used to enforce discipline and order on the team. They understand that implied power is more powerful than applying power. 

“Real power is having it but not having to use it.” Schindler’s list. 

The Sentinel would address the team in this fashion, “Team, it is imperative we achieve our targets this quarter, and for those who produce the results, the sky is the limit” Implying what to those who do not make their numbers?… In other words, the team knows what the Sentinel wants, how they want it, when they want it, and what is implied if they do not get it.

In the book “On Wings of Eagles” by Ken Follett, Ross Perot, billionaire on the Forbes 400 Richest list, founder of EDS, Electronic Data Systems, based in Texas and former candidate for the US presidency, created “the biggest jailbreak” in history (Ross Perot’s words). Two of his employees in Iran were taken hostage. Ross Perot put together his own team, trained by a retired Green Beret officer, to fly over and get them out. He felt that he owed it to the two men and their families since they had been with him in the beginning when he borrowed $1,000 from his wife to start EDS. This is the quid-pro-quo of the Sentinel. However, the opposite was true as well. It was said of Ross Perot that if your picture was on the wall for making Employee of the Year and you resigned, he would have your picture removed from the wall, essentially saying you had committed the ultimate act of disloyalty. 

Sentinels value traditional business strategies and take pride in teaching and preserving those methods. Decisions are influenced by custom and cultural time-honored values. When working for a Sentinel they will look for someone who has a level-headed tone, appropriate restraint, and a seasoned approach. They want to know that you have thought through the ideas, strategy or plans thoroughly, along with the consequences of the actions, because the Sentinel does not like surprises nor do they want to draw negative attention to themselves or the team. Sentinels seek input as a loyalty check to make sure you are in agreement with their viewpoint. Independent thinking can be disturbing to a Sentinel because they may think you have not fully bought into their philosophy. They will go through the motions of getting input but typically only as a formality since the Sentinel has likely already made the decision. Then when they provide the directive, they leave the method of resolution to the individual, with the individually fully aware of the expectations and implied consequences. Sentinels prefer a peaceful negotiation of issues but expect compliance regardless. If you believe the Sentinel is going down an incorrect path, provide options and alternatives to the Sentinel’s viewpoint, which also includes their idea as one of the options. This presentation should help guide the Sentinel to the best solution. However, the Godfather must make the final choice and support must be exhibited for whichever idea is chosen by the Sentinel. The trusted team members, or “lieutenants,” carry out their plans and handle the more troublesome problems without questioning authority.  As loyalty is demonstrated, a positive relationship ensues. Using language such as, “I will take care of it,” and “Done,” are beneficial. Always keep the Sentinel informed of progress to foster the relationship. No surprises. Always maintain the loyalty code. Being able to identify if this pattern is you or someone around you will help create smoother interactions and understand why people behave the way they do in the workplace.

Contact LeadAdvantage for more on our leadership patterns of behavior in the workplace! To think, to act, to take away something real… 

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About Author: 

Sherri Baldwin is Principal of LeadAdvantage, Inc., a leadership and team training and development company, and is a certified Leadership Coach and registered Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB). Sherri and her team use a unique blend of business-relevant, engaging and high-energy approaches to create an environment where leaders are individually equipped to navigate successfully through their specific business challenges to achieve a desired objective.

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