TrekAcademy


Lesson 065: Confronting harmful management directives
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 7/12 ('The Pegasus')

[Scene]

Riker, second in command of the Enterprise, is under direct orders of a Starfleet Admiral to not disclose certain classified information to anyone regarding their current mission, including to Capt. Picard.

Capt. Picard soon discovers the non-full disclosure nature of the mission details and confronts Riker.

Capt. Picard tells Riker that he cannot force Riker to disobey the Admiral's orders; however, he trusts that Riker will not jeopardize the ship or its crew by blindly following the Admiral's orders, adding the stipulation that if he (Capt. Picard) finds Riker has violated that trust, he will be forced to reevaluate the command structure of the Enterprise.

[Lesson]

Following orders is part of the human condition.

From childhood, obeying parental instructions, to adulthood, obeying managers, clients and even traffic signals, we all learn to follow orders as a daily part of our lives, sometimes without question.

However, there are times, when we need to draw a line, beyond which we will not cross, just in the name of following orders. These lines may be drawn in moral and ethical values, or in recognition of potential jeopardy to others or organizations, or in the simple notion that the order is unjust.

When following orders that cause wrongful harm, be ready to face the consequences and not hide behind the skirt of 'I was only following orders.'

To underscore this by example - CFO's who readily support their CEO's in exploiting their companies' financials to profit personally at the expense of the company must not be allowed to escape the full punishment of the law by pleading their innocence in just having followed orders.

Leaders and managers should always make it very clear to everyone that, words and actions, which prove detrimental to the business, organization or its people, will not be tolerated, regardless from where the order originated.

Just as Riker is threatened by Capt. Picard with demotion for any betrayal of trust to the crew or to the ship, so must all within any organization be forewarned of equal or tougher penalties should they too betray the trust of the organization and its people.

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