I’ll Just Make Them Do It

In a moment of extreme frustration when my cute-as-a-bug granddaughter was around two years-old, she yelled at the top of her lungs, “Just do what I say!” If we all just did that, everything would be grand. Why can’t we dullards see her wisdom?! I’m certain many of you have had similar experiences with little ones. 

When I hear Jen Psaki, Nancy Pelosi, and members of the Biden Administration talk about their COVID vaccination dreams, mask demands, and the plethora of their other COVID marching orders I hear the same kind of frustration. One would hope for better from individuals at the highest levels of our government, but their fundamental problem—in addition to being money-grubbers and power-hungry jackals—is that they have never really done anything, especially from a management/leadership perspective. 

Sadly, they are like a group of inexperienced first-year MBA students—where every management issue seems easy because all you have to do is make your employees do what you desire. It’s as simple as the wisdom emanating from my frustrated granddaughter.

In my MBA program I was lucky to have a practicing psychologist teach a course on management. 

He used a variety of teaching methods, one of which was discussing and debating case studies. The case studies would present this or that management challenge and we would each present and discuss our solution.

When we first started, we were rather surprised at how easy it was to solve these supposed management dilemmas. We’d confidently explain how we would address these issues and most of the class would agree. “I’ll just make them do this or that” . . . “I’ll just make them get along and work together” . . . quite often our “solutions” involved the word “make” or one of its many derivatives. Are you listening, Biden Administration?

Whatever the required action, we would just make our employees do it. It sounded so simple and easy. That way of thinking didn’t last long. Rather, the professor would constantly ask us “and how will you make them do that?” A simple-sounding question, but it has profound implications when truly addressed. Think about that question. How will you make them do that?

Just how do you make an employee do anything? Some of you are already thinking the words, “I’d just fire them (IJFT) if they didn’t do it.” One quickly discovers this mindset is almost universal with the “I’m the boss” thinking and is a species of magical thinking. 

The professor wouldn’t allow us to dance about this point, as this professor didn’t allow magical thinking in his classroom. The true solutions were much more difficult, much more detailed, and seldom suggested an easy answer, if indeed there was an answer at all. We quickly learned to erase magical thinking from our repertoire. This class was one of the most valuable I have ever taken.

Government—at least for now—can’t fire you but they can do far worse: for at the end of every government “request” is the barrel of a gun. They can take away your freedom. They can take away your very life if you refuse to “just do what I say!”

Sadly, this is the mindset of most politicians and government officials. When I listen to political “leaders” describe their various proposals, I am taken back to that management class.

They are just like us green MBA students—it’s soooo easy. If you listen to their words you can hear them basically say, “why were those before me so stupid, this is simple!”

“I’ll just make them do this.” “I’ll just make them do that.” And if there is any pushback, “Shut up, I’m the boss and I can take away all you have!”

How this thinking is even possible in representative government is beyond me.

Every tyrant, whether in the workplace or in the political world, begins with “I’ll make them do it.” At least in business the worst that can be done to a person involves the loss of a job. In the political world it can, and often does, end in the erasure of freedom and the deaths of millions.

In business, IJFT becomes the ultimate tool for immature minds. In politics this kind of immaturity leads to tyranny, for there is only one way to make a citizen do anything and that is with raw power. 

Listen carefully to the Biden Administration, the Squad, and all the rest. They are tyrants in the making and if they had the power and ability, they would surely use it. From the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, to Stalin, to Mao, to Islamist supremacists, to Venezuela and Cuba and many others, the road to tyranny—and the end of individual freedom—started with “I’ll just make them . . .” 

Perhaps history’s tyrants didn’t start with evil intentions but that is where they ended up. What starts as an exception soon becomes the norm.Most new managers—and almost all politicians—have a misperception of what it means to be a manager and leader. Most focus on their rights and privileges, not their duties.

True leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, not haranguing them about your organizational power or using it to “make” people behave and think as you deem appropriate. “Leaders” such as these have no more wisdom than that immature two-year-old shouting for others to “just do what I say!”

As a free people we don’t have to allow this to happen. There are profound reasons why our founders designed a system that limits the government, not the people. We must return to that genius.

Now is the time to stand up and put these two year-olds in a permanent time-out. Vote and live like your very freedoms—and the lives of all you love—hang in the balance. They do. 

About John Conlin

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change. He is also president and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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