When benevolent rebels break the rules in order to do the right thing, they morph into leaders. But these people are usually reprimanded or punished for rebelling against orders, policies, people with higher titles.
How inspiring that a man with courage, conviction and a love for his fellow soldiers was recognized for rebelling for the right reasons.
Rules and policy in any organization are meant to guide, not to dictate. Challenging rules is part of leading, and leading should not be limited to people with certain titles. The more people understand an organization’s purpose and values, the more empowered they should feel to step in and make decisions that uphold those values and purpose. There’s little upside to compliance in any organization — especially in life or death situations.
Like many rebels I have studied, Sergeant Meyer wasn’t all that interested in the recognition of the Medal of Honor. His one request: to be able to talk privately with President Obama. Rebel research shows that these folks want to do right, and have an opportunity to be heard. As The New York Times reported:
Mr. Meyer showed little inclination to celebrate receiving the Medal of Honor. His one request to the president while he was in Washington was that the two men have a beer together, which Mr. Obama and Mr. Meyer did on Wednesday evening in a patio near the Rose Garden.
Congratulations to Sergeant Meyer and to the United States for recognizing what it means to lead, even if it means disobeying orders.