Industry Opinions on 'Balancing the Art of Loyalty and Intelligence'

Just doing the job and working hard just doesn’t seem enough to get promoted to a leadership role. Then, what's the way forward?


Fictitious Case: An age old company begins to hire new IT professionals for various positions and segments of a company. While, there wasn’t a shortage of experienced professionals on board but in order to create a fresh wave into the organisation, lot many newbies hailing from various IT domains get hired, triggering a new wave of creativity in the organisation.

The problem occurs when a new hire simply outperforms his senior peers in a very short span of time.

Though, it is not illegal to promote a new employee over someone who has been retained for longer. However, it may be viewed as an unfair business practice by employees who have invested more time in a company. 

Or maybe, the case is such that the newbie possesses greater knowledge of a particular subject and has enough expertise to become a leader.

However, just doing the job and working hard just doesn’t seem enough to get promoted to a leadership role. Hence with better performance, abilities and qualifications, new hire wins over the hard work and loyalty of the age-old employee.

Was it fair or justified to promote a candidate who hasn’t been in hired role for long, barely has the knowledge of the company’s working style at length; over the one who is much senior and has spent longer years with the company at length?

But, what the age-old employee drew from this scenario is that smart work and good qualification is what fetches you greater chances towards promotion and not the length of association and loyalty towards the same company.

To conclude whether the management did justice to the employees or not, let’s hear out what the HR experts of the industry have to say on this.


Anil Jalali, Sr. HR Leader and Former CHRO Capegemini- Just like we hire someone from outside into a vacant role, we can also promote someone internally into it. If the promoted candidate happens to be relatively new to the company and other tenured employees were passed over, there must be a valid reason. For example, factors like skills, capability, performance etc in the context of the role.

While longer tenure alone does not guarantee promotion, an organization needs to introspect if they find internal talent superseding with external talent all too frequently. It could be gaps in talent management with respect to development and growth programs or it could be a very dynamic business with changing talent and skill requirements.

Aniruddha Khekale, Group HR Director, Emerson Automation Solution, India- This is classic – most of the organizations encounter this challenge pretty frequently. The challenge faced around three words – Loyalty, Experience and Promotion. Promotion is always confused for increase in power, dignity and social standing as opposed to the increase in complexity and accountability. Experience is mistaken for talent in the job role and Loyalty is mistaken as ‘long association’ as opposed to integrity and commitment. Most employees therefore develop a sense of ‘entitlement’ over a period of time.

As you go higher in the management hierarchy, the degree of capability and effort that one needs to put in to manage manual tasks vs. information analysis vs. decision making and people leadership becomes inversely proportionate. As you grow, you need different composition of abilities and that doesn’t necessarily come with a longer tenure. Practice makes a man perfect but talent can bring in disruption which can push you ahead in the game. We always confuse the two i.e. skills vs. talent and management vs. leadership.

‘Talent’ is the key and the ‘Right Talent’ should be promoted - fresh perspective, creativity, fresh energy should be welcomed. We need to change our assumptions. Integrity and commitment should be valued instead of just the no. of years within an organization. Imagination should be encouraged as opposed to compliance with the rule-book. Ability to energize people and leading from the front should be given charge as opposed to encouraging the ‘entitlement mentality.’

Aarif Aziz, CHRO, Diageo India: Balance between “loyalty” and “talent” is always a tricky one. Both are critical to build a lasting organization. Employees should see a career path in the company while “results” and “excellence” is rewarded. Success lies in employees being clear of expectations. The questions to ask is whether the employees know and relate to “performance” and “potential” being the most important criteria for career growth, whether they get regular feedback on their performance and finally, does this feedback help in shaping the development plan?

And if the answers to these queries is “Yes” then one can certainly believe that the company has a culture where talent is recognized for contributions and loyalty is rewarded by investing in employees’ growth.



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