[August 4, 2018] A recent indecent in my family motivated me to write about how to get along smoothly in any organization. All of us have belonged to a variety of organizations in our lifetimes (e.g., work, school, family, military, church) and perhaps we’ve had difficulty along the way. All you have to do is follow the rules and most obstacles will be moved out of your way as you move to success.
When I was in U.S. Army Basic Combat Training back in 1974, a fellow trainee and friend of mine used his 30 minutes of free time to go to the Post Exchange (PX). He bought a Combat Jump Wings badge which he thought was pretty neat and then affixed it to his army cap (he was not authorized to wear it). As soon as the Drill Sergeants saw him (I’m a witness), all hell broke loose. The yelling and screaming went on for what seemed like hours.
Break the rules and the results can be rather unpleasant. It is rare that senior leaders break rules; not the big rules anyway. Senior leaders got where they are by following rules scrupulously and deviating from a rule only after careful weighing of the risks. Following the rules is, by far, this is the most common path to success.
There will always be individuals who chose to deviate from or don’t know the rules and violate them unintentionally. A senior leader rarely uses any excuse for disobeying organizational rules. Perhaps they think they know better, or that the rules don’t really apply to them, or the rules are antiquated, discriminatory, or serve no valuable function. Any given reason they might to disobey a rule is of much lesser importance than a disobedient act.
A leader who is new to an organization is often in no position to judge the value of organization rules. If you’re new and you don’t like the rules, then you made a poor judgment to begin with by getting involved. If you don’t know the rules, then it is your responsibility to learn them. If you chose to disobey them and have not considered carefully the risks, then you deserve what you get.