Despite of having a lot of ideas and topics on what to write about, I have been motivated to write on this subject. This is attributed to having spent some time on social media. This theme seems to keep coming up so, here I am. Writing on it.
I don’t mean to stir up any types of pots or controversy, however, I do believe that intelligent disobedience has gone under the radar for a little too long. By understanding what intelligent disobedience is, the importance of it, and by correctly implementing it, we can become valuable employees and leaders.
What is intelligent disobedience?
This term: intelligent disobedience is most often seen in the training of service dogs. These service animals are trained to go against the orders of their owners in effort to make a better decision. For example: a blind man is walking down the street with his service dog. They approach an intersection. The man hears the street signal to walk and instructs the animal to go. The animal does not go. The dog sees a vehicle coming in their direction and, in order to avoid harm to his owner, he disobeys the instruction. The owner may be frustrated due to lack of understanding regarding why his dog is refusing his instruction, however, his dog is right to disobey.
Let’s transfer this logic in the work environment.
Your boss tells you to do something that contradicts your values. He is also telling you to do something that, if caught, can lead to serious consequences. This includes up to termination of your job. However, you do know that if you go against what is being told, you will have some backlash. You know it from a history of watching others before you suffer these consequences. What do you do? Do you go along to get along? Or do you stand your ground?
Intelligent disobedience is important for several reasons. In the above mentioned situation you, the employee, may use this logic to protect yourself from unwanted consequences from an intentional position your boss put you in. You know what is asked of you is wrong, therefore you don’t go along with it. You report this situation to their superior or a company hotline that promises to keep your identity confidential. You may want to mention that this particular person has been known to retaliate so that you may remain protected. Most jobs do have a retaliation policy that prohibits the boss in question to demote you for doing what you think is right.
Let’s say that the situation is not intentional. Your boss asks you to do something that you can see being a problem in the future of the company. After much discussion, you still are not sure of the outcome if you act on their instruction. The correct use of intelligent disobedience may in fact save the company lots of money, and legal problems. However, perception is key to the proper use of this skill set. You cannot implement intelligent disobedience if you are using it in a malice way. Like, you view this boss in a negative light and use it as a form of getting back at that person. That’s gross misuse of this skill. Not acceptable in any way.
How can we implement intelligent disobedience?
The value in intelligent disobedience has been seen in some of the greatest leaders this world has ever known. It takes great strength and courage to go against the grain and to stand tall on a foundation of values. However, for every great leader that has smartly used this skill, there are many that have failed to do so. Do not take intelligent disobedience lightly or for granted. By focusing on the definition and importance of intelligent disobedience we understand how to successfully implement it so we can continue to work in harmony with those around us.
Yaritza Ellison has been an nurse since 2010. She has been essential to the healing process of many and seeks to continue to do so. Her passion for mental health and self help literature has lead her to launch justyari.org, where she aspires to coach young ladies navigating through work-life balance.