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Loyalty: It’s all in your brain

  • SIMA
- Posted: June 27, 2018
The 21st Annual Snow & Ice Symposium got off to a cerebral start with the opening keynote featuring James Kane, one of the leading researchers and consultants in the science of loyalty and the role it plays in human relationships.
Building on more than 40 years of research, Kane made the case that people have a fundamental need to be loyal and actively seek out the specific clues from others that tell them when they can and should be.
Every relationship you have, he says, falls into a spectrum: one side is a threat, the other is an opportunity.

Hostile > Transactional > Predisposed > Loyal

  • On the far left are hostile relationships - those who dislike you and will tell everyone they know they dislike you.
  • Next are transactional relationships, which Kane says are equally as dangerous. These relationships equal “you did something for me and I did something for you” as was expected. 
  • Predisposed relationships may be your best clients or employees, but don’t confuse those as loyal relationships. “They like you and are not looking for something else, until the game changes,” he says.
  • Loyal relationships are the safe place. A loyal relationship is “nearly unbreakable” and one that is never measured on price or ability, he says. “Those things matter, but not as much as other factors that create more emotional bonds. We are loyal to those who are indispensable in our lives and who always have our best interests at heart. Those who make our lives safer, easier, and better.”
During his keynote, Kane identified three building blocks of loyalty: Trust, Belonging, and Purpose.
1) Trust is essential to a loyal relationship. Whether it’s a client or your employee, the expectation is that you will be honest, ethical and fair in your actions. 
2) While you can’t have loyalty without trust, people crave a sense of belonging - seeing people as individuals and making them feel appreciated and valuable.
3) You can’t have loyalty without the first two, but Kane says the tipping point for loyalty often rests with identifying a sense of purpose - standing for something and clearly conveying that intention. “When you establish an intention that is not only clear and identifiable, but aspirational, they connections that go beyond simple economic transactions.”
If you missed the keynote or want to learn more about James Kane, visit
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