I’ve recently been working with several clients to help them define and establish their core values. When I ask leadership teams what attributes they admire most in their employees, loyalty always makes the list. Business owners, in particular, appreciate loyalty in their employees. Loyalty is the quality of being faithful to someone or something else. Loyalty is good, but when it comes to employees, I don’t want loyalty. I want commitment. Here’s why.

Loyalty is passive. Dogs are loyal, citizens are loyal to their country, and consumers can be loyal. Often times, we are loyal to a product or brand until an event causes us not to be. I purchase a particular brand of syrup not because I’m deeply invested in the brand, ingredients, or purpose of the company, but because my kids have become used to its taste. If the company pulled out of the syrup market, it would disrupt my life for less than a nanosecond. I would pick another syrup and move on.

Loyalty is something we feel or unconsciously demonstrate out of habit. We often become loyal to our employers because we are comfortable. The company continues to employ us, treat us well, and we stay. Loyalty and service (or tenure) usually go hand in hand. But loyalty promotes complacency. We’ve all heard the phrase “loyal to a fault”. Loyalty does not deliver results. Commitment does.

Commitment is a choice. It requires a conscious decision to support a person, or group, a company. To act on behalf of another – in good times and in bad. Marriage is a commitment. A healthy lifestyle is a commitment. Social responsibility is a commitment. These things require dedication, perseverance, and stamina. They require commitment.

Likewise, employee engagement is a commitment. Engaged employees are not just happy, they are committed. Committed to the purpose of the organization, its values, its products and services. And engaged employees act on that commitment every day. When they drive results, improve business processes, refer other employees or clients to your organization, and deliver outstanding service to your clients. Commitment is not easy. Commitment takes effort.

Take Cubs fans for example. After 108 years with no championship wins, most sports fans would have simply picked another team to root for. We have another team in Chicago that would have been an easy choice. Yet thousands (make that millions) of fans across the country and around the world are committed to seeing their team win the World Series. To overcome the curse that haunted us for so many years. And we invested time, money, tears, and generations of hope knowing that one day we would go all the way.

Cub fans are not loyal. We are committed. Committed to our team when it wins, and committed when it loses. Even when hope is lost, Cubs fans “show up.” We root for our team, attend games donning Cubs gear, and know that our commitment and participation is instrumental in the success of the team. To a Cubs fan, a win is our win, a loss is our loss. And a Cubs fan commits to one hell of a celebration when after 108 years the team breaks the curse and rewrites history once and for all.

Imagine if all of your employees were as committed to your company as a Cubs fan to its team. Think of the brand ambassadors you’d have promoting your organization. And if that seems like a pipe dream, let’s talk about how you can hire and build a base of raving fan employees of your own.