Intelligent Disobedience Book Summary - Intelligent Disobedience Book explained in key points
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Intelligent Disobedience summary

Ira Chaleff

Doing Right When What You’re Told to Do Is Wrong

4.1 (14 ratings)
14 mins

Brief summary

Intelligent Disobedience by Ira Chaleff explores the importance of disobedience as a virtue when authority is wrong or abusive. Learn how to develop this skill without damaging relationships.

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    Intelligent Disobedience
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    We should follow orders, but only when they are reasonable, constructive and based on legitimate authority.

    Would you consider yourself to be an obedient person? Most people will say: “No! I make decisions for myself.” But imagine that you’re working in a nuclear plant, and your boss hurriedly tells you to shut off the reactor. Would you do it? Most likely you would, without any hesitation.

    But why would we be so quick to follow orders in this particular case? Well, certain situations require obedience, while others don’t. For a system to demand your obedience, it must meet particular conditions.

    First, systems that require obedience should have rules and orders which are “reasonably fair,” meaning both that the system is based on moral principles and that it can function properly.

    In contrast, systems whose rules are arbitrary or lead to negative outcomes (such as the suffering of others) should not be obeyed.

    Second, the person who gives the orders must hold their position of authority over others legitimately, and act competently.

    For example, a senior doctor who gives a junior colleague an instruction during a brain operation has both competence and legitimate authority. If the junior doctor ignores her expertise, the consequences could be severe. But if the hospital janitor gives the junior doctor instructions on brain surgery (or if a senior doctor gave the janitor instructions on how to best clean the floors), then their orders aren’t based on competency or legitimate authority.

    Finally, the order should be constructive.

    If obeying an order would cause more harm than good, then it shouldn’t be followed. Complying with immoral orders is wrong, and the person acting upon them can be held responsible for any harm caused by their actions.

    For example, those who carried out Nazi war crimes tried to hide behind the fact they were “just following orders.” This plea was ignored, and many were convicted for their terrible deeds.

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    What is Intelligent Disobedience about?

    Intelligent Disobedience (2015) offers insight into why we’re so quick to follow orders – even when we know we shouldn’t. It gives you all the tools you need to effectively resist the rules, regulations and orders that you know are wrong or harmful – without putting yourself at risk.

    Intelligent Disobedience Review

    Intelligent Disobedience (2015) by Ira Chaleff is a thought-provoking book that explores the idea of challenging authority when it is necessary. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It presents compelling case studies and examples that illustrate the importance of intelligent disobedience in various contexts, from corporate environments to personal relationships.
    • The book offers practical guidance on cultivating critical thinking and ethical decision-making skills, empowering readers to navigate complex situations with confidence.
    • Through its engaging storytelling and exploration of moral courage, the book manages to captivate readers and offers valuable insights into the power of questioning authority.

    Who should read Intelligent Disobedience?

    • Anyone in a leadership position
    • Parents who want their children to think for themselves
    • Entrepreneurs who want to encourage their creativity

    About the Author

    Ira Chaleff is an author, executive coach and consultant who has been named one of the 100 “Best Minds on Leadership.” His other works include The Courageous Follower and The Art of Followership.

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    Intelligent Disobedience FAQs 

    What is the main message of Intelligent Disobedience?

    The main message of Intelligent Disobedience is the importance of questioning authority and speaking up against unethical or harmful decisions.

    How long does it take to read Intelligent Disobedience?

    The reading time for Intelligent Disobedience varies. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Intelligent Disobedience a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Intelligent Disobedience is a compelling read for those interested in ethical decision-making. It provides valuable insights and practical strategies in 130 characters.

    Who is the author of Intelligent Disobedience?

    The author of Intelligent Disobedience is Ira Chaleff.