Human Resource (HR) Management : How to Ensure Obedience

Source: Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: HOW TO MAKE PEOPLE OBEY ORDERS

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal:…

Leadership Mantra

In the Navy there is a maxim:


Here is a apocryphal story that demonstrates how to elicit willing obedience.

Do you want to know the secret of how to make people obey your orders..?

Read on …



“As a leader – you must ensure that whatever instructions you give and all the orders you pass are properly obeyed,” a renowned Management Guru pontificated to his audience at the leadership training workshop he was conducting for policemen.

The eager beaver trainees listened in rapt attention as the Management Guru thundered, “Enforcement of orders – that’s the key to effective leadership – you must be able to enforce all orders and ensure compliance of all instructions and rules by the public.”

At the end of the training, a wizened policeman came up to the Management Guru and said, “Sir, all this is fine in theory – but it does not work in practice. It is easy to give lectures – but practical implementation is a different matter altogether.”

“What do you mean?” the Guru asked.

From where I come it is impossible to make anyone obey orders. There is just no discipline in that place – the people out there just do not obey instructions. They are most unmanageable and disobedient,” the cop said.

“From where do you come?”

“Pune,” the cop said.

“Okay. I am coming to Pune next week. We will discuss there,” the Guru said.


A few days later – the policeman took the Management Guru on a tour of Pune City.

“See,” the cop said pointing towards a NO PARKING sign, “look at the number of vehicles parked in the “No Parking” Zone. We keep trying to educate everyone – we impose fines on defaulters – we tow away wrongly parked vehicles – but it is of no use. No one seems to be bothered about obeying rules – so we too have stopped bothering about it.”

The Cop took the Guru to a Garden Park.

There was a sign: DO NOT PLUCK FLOWERS

But – there was a woman plucking flowers right next to the signpost.

DO NOT LITTER THE LAWN – a signboard said.

But – people were throwing all sorts of waste including paper plates and dumping remains of their food on the lawn.

Of course – no one bothered about the DO NOT EAT FOOD IN THE GARDEN notice too – and there were a large number of people eating food sitting on the lawns of the garden.

It was a similar situation everywhere.

Every instruction was ignored.

People were spitting – despite DO NOT SPIT signs.

People were driving the wrong way into one-way streets – ignoring NO ENTRY traffic signs.

Many persons were seen merrily smoking cigarettes in NO SMOKING areas.

The traffic on the roads was totally chaotic as drivers jumped traffic signals and cared two hoots about following traffic rules.

It was impossible to walk on the pavement due to encroachments.

The policeman was right – the people of this town just did not obey any instructions – and nobody seemed to be bothered about rules and regulations.

“So,” the policeman said gleefully to the Guru, “what do have to say now?”

“Come to the park in the evening at 6 o’clock,” the Guru told the policeman, “I will show you how to get these people to obey orders.”

“Really?” said the disbelieving policeman, “okay I will come – and I will bring my bosses too. We will all like to see how you are going to achieve this miracle – do you really think people of Pune will obey instructions – just imagine?”


In the evening a posse of cops and the policeman reached the park.

They were bewildered at what they saw.

On the lawns of the garden – the Management Guru had put up a big signboard.

On this signboard was boldly written:


A number of people were looking at the notice with amusement.

Some stood there staring at the notice and laughing.

Others looked at the notice and then walked away smiling.

But – no one was eating stones.

Yes – the order was being strictly obeyed – NOT EVEN A SINGLE PERSON WAS EATING STONES.

Everyone was obeying the order written on the signboard: “ DO NOT EAT STONES

The triumphant Guru looked at the flabbergasted policemen – and he said:“Do you see anyone disobeying this order…? Do you see even a single person eating stones…?”

Before the dumbfounded cops could say anything – the Guru said:

“Always remember one thing:

Willing obedience is always better than forced obedience

Yes – if you want people to obey your orders – always remember the dictum:


PS: On a serious note – I saw in the Navy that this mantra works. The moral of the story is that if you issue orders that are acceptable and implementable – your orders will be willingly obeyed – and there will be no need to force compliance – and – forced obedience should be enforced only in extreme/emergency situations.

Copyright © Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This story is a work of fiction. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

I used to tell this leadership mantra to my junior officers, senior sailors, trainees and students long ago and have also posted it in my blog a number of times.
Here are links to my some of my earlier posts:…  and…  and…  and…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 10/02/2015 05:56:00 PM

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