The Atlantic

What to Do When the Boss Is Wrong

“Nobody disobeys my orders,” the president insisted. But workplaces function better when they make room for defiance.
Source: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Mercurial bosses in dysfunctional offices sometimes give orders that their employees just ignore—even when that dysfunctional office is the highest in the country. According to Robert Mueller’s recent report, Donald Trump tried to get his staff to impede the special counsel’s investigation, but figures such as Don McGahn and Rod Rosenstein protected the president—and themselves—by quietly letting those orders slide.

In better-run offices, employees defy their superiors overtly. Back in the early 1980s, when Joanna Hoffman was in charge of marketing for Apple’s nascent Macintosh computer system, her boss, Steve Jobs, was a demanding, tantrum-throwing perfectionist. According to his biographer, Walter Isaacson, every year from 1981 on, the team developing the Mac gave an award to the person who

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