Some thoughts on cooperation and loyalty

This comes from reflections on my own experiences, so there’s bias and specificity…

When you’re starting out and are fairly unskilled in a lot of ways, you need to assemble a team. Generally the team you assemble will be near to your skill level, as those with much greater skill wouldn’t necessarily want to work with you. So say you have a team of 20 people, each handling a skill you lack. You all cooperate to help each other get what the others want. You give your best effort, and give the others your respect and best work, and you expect the same from them.

Over time, you should work to develop your own skills and also hold to your own growing standards the others on your team. Those who grow their skills along with you would likely stay on your team, and those who fall behind should be replaced. Part of being the hub of the team is that you need to be on the lookout for those with greater skill, or for higher standards of workmanship. If you identify higher standards of workmanship and your current team members can meet that standard, you wouldn’t have a need to replace them. If they haven’t developed their skill and likely won’t, you need to replace them with those with higher skill levels. And because the overall skill of your team would be developing, those with higher skills would likely be willing to work with your team. Further, they might have connections with still others who work at a higher standard, enabling you to replace any current team members who need to be replaced because their skill development is falling behind.

The cycle repeats, where you constantly work to grow your skills and you hold everyone to higher standards, encouraging them to grow their own skills at every turn. You replace those you need to, each time expanding the output and increasing the workmanship of your team.

Loyalty in all this really has no place, from a strictly business sense. Now sometimes we want to be loyal to others and/or want others to be loyal to us, but likely that’s more for personal/unconscious reasons than for business reasons. Because while some degree of loyalty is rewarded in business, loyalty should only be a stronger form of cooperation, and you should never let a sense of loyalty prevent you from replacing those who need to be replaced because their skills haven’t kept up with the growing standards of the group. Loyalty damages your team, your work, and prevents others from being sufficiently challenged to keep expanding their skills and developing their workmanship.