Tag Archives: independence

Never do what you are told!

I tell everyone who works with, or for, me that they are never to do something because I told them to do it.  I do not want or expect anyone to do what I ask just because I told them to do it. Instead, I insist they do what they do because they understand what they are doing, they know why it makes sense to do it, they believe that what they are about to do is the wise and right thing to do, and they want to do it.

The objective is to make them (as opposed to me!) accountable for what they do and to help them grow through the experience. Soon I will not have to ask them any more because what I want done will be internalized and we can move on the next stage of growth. If I ever ask them to do something that they do not understand, agree with, or want to do then I beg them to tell me about it so that we can talk it through.

An approach that demands people to do something but that does not take time to be sure those being told understand and agree with doing it may seem more like what a CEO should do but it is not. Here is why:

  • When things do not go quite right it is too easy for the person to let themselves off-the-hook as they say, either out loud or to themselves, that: I only did it because the boss told me to.
  • It is human tendency to do what you are told to do by persons in positions of authority.  However, when you follow an order, you do not necessarily have to:

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