Torture in Abu Ghraib prison. Corporate fraud. Falsified records at Veterans Administration hospitals. Teachers pressured to feed test answers to students. These scandals could have been prevented if, early on, people had said to their higher-ups. In this timely new book, Ira Chaleff goes deeply into when and how to disobey inappropriate orders, reduce unacceptable risk, and find better ways to achieve legitimate goals. The inspiration for the book, and its title, came from a concept used in guidedog training. Guide dogs must be able to recognize a command that would put their human and themselves at risk, effectively resist the command, and identify better options. This is precisely what Chaleff shows humans how to do. He delves into the psychological dynamics of obedience, drawing in particular on what Stanley Milgram's seminal Yale experiments-in which volunteers were induced to administer shocks to incent people-teach us about how to reduce compliance with harmful orders. Using dozens of vivid examples of historical events and everyday situations, Chaleff offers advice on judging whether intelligent disobedience is called for, how to effectively express opposition, and how to create a culture where, rather than just following orders, citizens are educated and encouraged to think about whether those orders make sense.
Ira Chaleff is the founder and president of Executive Coaching & Consulting Associates and chairman emeritus of the Congressional Management Foundation in Washington, DC. He is the founder of the Followership Learning Community of the International Leadership Association and has been named one of the 100 Best Minds on Leadership by Leadership Excellence magazine.