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Take Moral Action

If we Decide to Stay

Despite the moral demand to leave, a follower may choose to stay—the price of leaving may simply be too high. Courage is not absolute. We cannot judge another for making this choice unless we ourselves have faced it. If we […]

Evil Behavior

Any behavior falls somewhere along a spectrum of intensity for that type of activity. The study of statistics tells us that the distribution of intensities within a group always forms a familiar bell-shaped curve. Most people display similar intensity and […]

When Leaders Must be Opposed

There is a large step between disavowing a leader and actively opposing him. When disavowing a leader, a follower is casting light on the leader’s actions in the court of public opinion and leaving it to the corrective mechanisms of […]

Protecting Yourself

As studies of whistleblowers amply demonstrate, it is not uncommon for a follower who disavows or opposes a leader to pay a significant price. If leaders are deeply insecure and vindictive, they may even retaliate for simply suggesting that they […]

The Responsibility to Blow the Whistle

The decision to withdraw support from a leader does not automatically require disavowing that leader. Followers may simply decide there are more important purposes and more values-centered leaders to support or that they are ready to test their own leadership […]

The Decision to Withdraw Support

The bottom line of followership is that we are responsible for our decision to continue or not to continue following a leader. Even in extremis, we have the choice of supporting an anathema to our values or not. This is […]

Follower Self-Examination

When courageous followers believe that neither the organization’s values nor its purpose are being served well by the leader, and they are considering withdrawing support, they should also examine themselves before acting. In many organizational cultures, colleagues sympathize with us […]

Values Review

The actions of a leader who is abusing power can be so at odds with his proclaimed values that cognitive dissonance prevents us from fully registering the discrepancies. But we do experience discomfort at the perimeters of our awareness and […]

The Dilemma of the “Unreasonable” Leader

The “unreasonable” man or woman is sometimes said to be the primary agent of change in a culture. Reasonable people adapt to their sur roundings; unreasonable individuals change those surroundings to better suit their needs. The strength of an unreasonable […]

Threatening to Resign

If we express our intention to disobey a morally offensive order, or disobey one and are overridden, we must be as prepared to resign in protest as we are prepared to resign should our own breach of trust warrant it. […]

The Duty to Disobey

There are times when we cannot convince leaders to change their policies or actions and we gracefully line up with the team and support the policies. There are other times when the policies or actions are morally unacceptable to us. […]

Query and Appeal

Once we have prepared ourselves for the possibility of leaving the organization, we can examine other strategies available to us that may or may not lead to the necessity to do so. In some circumstances when faced with an order […]

Offering to Resign

While separation from an organization may be a long, well-considered process, resignation based on principles is often abrupt. We can resign because of our own breach of trust or in protest of the leader’s. We’ll examine the former situation first. […]

Financial Contingencies

Most followers are not independently wealthy. The financial factors involved in leaving are often as weighty as the emotional factors. If leaving is a considered decision made mutually with the leader, we usually have little financial problem making the transition. […]

Difficulty of Separation

In a relationship between dynamic leaders and committed followers who share a common purpose, withdrawing support from a leader is a wrenching act. It is closer to the experience of divorce than it is to leaving one job for another. […]


Though moral action does not always require leaving a group or organization, it always implies the potential of leaving if the offending situation is not corrected or, indeed, if we ourselves have offended the core values of the group. Therefore, […]