Play the Game, When is Mutiny in Order? (pages 52-63)
Updated: Feb 4
Part One: Leadership Strategies, 1. Foundations, F. Play the Game, G. When is Mutiny in Order? (pages 52-63)
F. Play the Game
Playing the Game, the author is referring to the ability to support your boss while performing your duties as well as possible. It’s about building a relationship with the boss while working toward accomplishing the mission. This takes place both up and down the chain of command. Try to use both your bosses and subordinates’ suggestions as often as possible. As the author states, “As often as you can, listen and say yes.” While some might say this is brownnosing, the author explains that what you are doing is “trying to optimize things so you and your team can best accomplish the mission.”
Even back when I was in the military, I would hear those around me calling be a brownnoser. I would always have my uniform pressed, haircut high and tight, and boots looking like glass. Every Friday morning, the company would stand for inspection. The soldier who presented the best received the day off. I almost always had a 4-day workweek. I would think of those who called me names as I drove off base on each Friday morning and smile. You must know how to play the game.
G. When is Mutiny in Order?
This section deals with how to handle the situation when your boss is going to make a mistake and won’t take your advice. While there are clear-cut situations when you must report up the food chain, breaking the law, safety, catastrophic failure, normally it is much murkier. When faced with knowing your boss is making a bad decision, the subordinate must make every attempt, and then another, at providing the boss alternatives using an indirect approach. “I want to make sure I understand your thinking here so I can learn through these issues myself”, is the approach the author suggests. He states four possible outcomes is the boss refuses to listen and the subordinate refuses to comply.
1. The leader changes their mind and proceeds in a different manner.
2. The subordinate refuses to comply. They are fired and replaced with someone who will easily capitulate to the boss.
3. The subordinate refuses to comply and they lose all influence with the boss.
4. The subordinate makes one last statement objecting, but then executes the boss’s plan.
Pushing back on your boss is a tricky maneuver. A mentor of mine once told me that my main purpose as an Assistant Superintendent was to make sure my Superintendent never made a mistake. I agree with the author is taking a less direct approach so that the boss finds it out themselves that they are in the wrong. However, once the relationship is strong, I feel that the direct approach is more efficient. Just keep in mind, if you are going to tell the boss they are wrong, you better be behind closed doors!