Charge the Line

Part 3: The Art of Leadership - Insubordination

By Josh Fowler

When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak, the result is insubordination.

Defiance of authority; refusal to obey orders. We’ve never seen that in our business or within our organizations, have we? Discipline is often one of the most challenging issues leaders deal with.

Rules, regulations, policies, and procedures are designed to provide the framework of the proper and expected behavior. However, when discipline must be enacted, it must be done quickly and within the parameters of the set rules, regulations, policies, and procedures. The reasoning behind swift action comes from Robert Fleming’s Survival Skills for the Fire Chief. He says, “In such situations, timely action is required in the interest of correcting the inappropriate or unacceptable behavior of fire department members, while reinforcing the importance of compliance on the part of other department members.”

What do you do when your line officers lose control of those they are supposed to lead? You train them. If that fails to work, you replace them. In our litigious society, there is no excuse for ignoring unacceptable behavior. If you are a leader who is reluctant to enforce rules and policy, (1) you shouldn’t have promoted and (2) take the demotion now so you don’t risk being sued later. If rules and policies are broken and it is your job to enforce those rules and policies, DO YOUR JOB!