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Is It Okay for a Leader to Bend a Rule or Policy? Ever?

I found myself in one of those situations today where something so simple became moreJumphoop  complicated than it needed to be.

I had to take a dreaded trip to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to get my driver's license renewed. I was relieved and even shocked to find no one else in the entire office except those who were working. As you know, this doesn't happen very often in the DMV where a half hour or more wait is common. I went to the first counter where one of the workers was standing and she handed me a ticketed number. I looked at the number a little surprised. And then I asked and thought to myself, "is she handing me a number to wait in line? There isn't a single person in the entire office." About five seconds after receiving the number I heard a female voice at another counter down the row calling my number telling me it was my turn. I shook my head, chuckled a little and renewed my license.

Now I am sure there is some type of policy the DMV had to follow whether they were helping one person or one hundred. It got me thinking though, and I would like to discuss this, are there times when it is okay for a leader to bend the rules? Or should policy and rules always be adhered to? I have heard people say that the "spririt of the law" should overide the "letter of the law." What does that mean?

I have always tended to be more of a "letter of the law" type of person. But I wonder, if policy is set by a person, and people aren't always perfect, should we always abide by sometimes imperfect policies? What kind of impact does not completely following a rule or policy have on those we lead? What does it say about a leader? I am not giving answers, I am asking questions. And I assume we will have some very strong opinions. So let the discussion begin. I look forward to your comments below. Thanks.

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Mike Rogers