Do You Always Follow Orders?

Posted on July 18, 2012.

How many of us would have the courage to say no to a CEO request? It’s easy to read the news and judge others, but most of us would be like Jerry del Missier, the ex-COO Of Barclays, who testified that he manipulated interest rates on orders from CEO Diamond.  I’m not convinced many of us would have done differently.  Maybe it’s not huge requests like the one at Barclays, but haven’t we all be asked or asked others to do some of the following:

  •  Not report a large potential sale in your pipeline so your goals aren’t increased?
  •  Create charts and graphs that reflect only numbers that make you, your team or your company look good?
  •  Hired someone you knew was the wrong fit because of a request from higher up?
  •  Promoted someone that was unqualified for the same reason?
  •  Implemented policies you knew were bad for your customers and your company on orders from the powers that be?
  •  Laid off the wrong person because your boss asked you to?
  •   Close down an office or program you knew was a mistake on orders from someone who neither knew your market or your program?

I’m not proud to say that I have done some of the items listed above. Especially early in your career, it’s the rare individual who has the personal courage to call bull s#$t when asked to do this kind of crap. And frankly, it’s likely you will lose your job if you do.  But I would challenge you as leaders to push back just one time.  Personal courage has to start somewhere or we all end up paying the price as recently reflected in the mortgage meltdown.