An ILA Leadership Perspectives Webinar

Developing Intelligent Disobedience at 4 or 40 in Your House or the White House!

Presenter: Ira Chaleff

Date: 24 July 2018

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Leadership and Followership don’t begin in the workplace. They begin in families of origin and in early years in school, sports, religious education, and social activities. Many of us focus on research, education, and practice in adult arenas; perhaps we can make a greater impact if we extend our orbit to the formative years when patterns of awareness and behavior are established. Leading and following are often viewed as the freewill interaction between adults with a mature sense of agency, but in reality, much of the dynamics of leading and following play out in hierarchical settings across generations where formal power is unevenly distributed.

Knowing that children are led and sometime mis-led by their peers or by adult authority figures heightens the need to prepare them to make good decisions. Establishing a healthy relationship to authority in the formative years is preparation for later workplace and community citizenship. Toward that end, Ira Chaleff, author of The Courageous Follower and Intelligent Disobedience, has developed a handbook for parents and caregivers to guide their teaching of Intelligent Disobedience to children. In this webinar, Ira will share simple techniques that have been tested by parents and educators globally. In addition to applying these techniques to children, he has found them to be useful to young adults and to mature professionals, including those serving in senior government roles when confronted with ethically problematic instructions. This material provides fertile ground for new research to test and build on this timely work.

Attendees will:

  • Explore why adults and children obey harmful orders from authority figures or positional leaders
  • Discuss how to develop healthy responses that allow people to make better choices in difficult situations.
  • Participate in an engaging Q&A with the presenter.

Speaker Information

Ira Chaleff

Ira Chaleff is an author, speaker, workshop presenter and innovative thinker on the beneficial use of power between those who are leading and those who are following in any given situation. His latest book, Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You’re Told to Do Is Wrong, breaks new ground by exploring the deep cultural roots of obedience and how to equip individuals of all ages to resist inappropriate orders and find better ways and ethical means of achieving legitimate goals. His research led him to early childhood development and equipping children to say “no” to violations of trust by authority figures (see and the creation of Intelligent Disobedience for Children: A Handbook for Parents and Other Caregivers.

Chaleff’s previous books include The Courageous Follower: Standing Up to and For Our Leaders and The Art of Followership: How Great Followers Make Great Leaders and Organizations, which he coedited. He recently completed two terms on the ILA Board of Directors, and is founder of its Followership Learning Community. He is a Visiting Leadership Scholar at the Møller Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge University; chair emeritus of the non-partisan Congressional Management Foundation (; and adjunct faculty at the Federal Executive Institute. Ira lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, where bears frequently disobey the No Trespassing signs on the road! 

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