Our Volatile, uncertain, and complex world has led to the emergence of increasing trend disobedience. A marketing manager who asks his staff to claim perfect products and hide all their inferiority may create disobedience from the staff. The more the staff is ethical the more resistance the manager shall face.
Our VUCA world makes us unsure and hesitant of about what we do. Our ethics and autonomy pull us away from obeying managers when it comes to wrongdoing or acting with cloudy understanding. We run the risk of losing our jobs and live in the tension of swinging between keeping the job or our ethics and core values.
I have my stories on the conflict between doing what are the rules state and the need to disobey the rules.
I walked in the research lab on a weekend. Research sometimes recognizes no weekend. Suddenly, I heard a man and woman whispering with occasional laughing. I decided to check who was there. I looked in the next lab. I found the couple romancing. They thought they were safe because they did not expect anybody to be at work that time.
I was their direct manager. Rules stated that I should fire them right away. Knowing them for some time and being excellent at work I walked off and paused to think. The couple noticed that I saw them.
Next day was a working day. The woman walked in my office crying and begging for tolerance. I said to her that I was unaware for what she was talking about. She in shock asked if I was at work yesterday. I said no and I was on a sea trip all day. She left confused.
I knew the repercussion of firing a woman in a conservative society. I had to fire her by rules but my passion and worry about her future prevented me from obeying rules. A week later, the couple was engaged and later attended their wedding.
Few years later, I said farewell to the place because I decided to accept another job. As I was to step in the cab to drive me for the airport, the couple rushed to me. They asked me if I was the person who saw them, because they lived in the fear that it might be somebody else. Yes, I did was my answer, but I decided to save your reputation. They cracked in tears.
When disobedience is superior to obedience?
This was the theme of a book titled “Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You’re Told to Do Is Wrong” by Ira Chaleff.
I believe the tendency of intelligent disobedience shall increase with the growing disparity between what managers want and what employees feel right to do. It is a struggle between our core values and what work demands when these are in conflict. It is also the struggle between what we think is right and what the society thinks right are not in harmony.
Do you have a story to share? Please do