THE BLOG
05/29/2012 02:46 pm ET Updated Jul 28, 2012

Would You Bend the Rules for a Boss?

I should have seen it coming. My new boss said he didn't want people telling him what they thought he wanted to hear. Not that I would've held back anyway, but it kept me from worrying a few weeks later -- when I gently passed on one of his requests.

On the surface it was no big deal. Share a service we were paying for by the month with another business that wasn't paying for it. Clearly a violation of our contract with the former, but as crimes go it was more on the order of stealing grapes from the grocery store.

It gnawed at me, though. I don't steal grapes, and I didn't think my boss should expect me to.

"I can't do it," I told another manager, who promptly exploded. "Then don't!" he said, screaming at me. "I'll do it." This guy never seemed to get excited about much of anything, and I was stunned by his anger. "It's not the work," I pointed out. "I'm not trying to get out of work."

He looked at me like he couldn't believe I considered this a moral issue.

"You are going to be on his list!" he continued. I didn't say anything. I just walked away. But I thought to myself, "No, he's going to be on my list." I knew I could get fired, but it didn't matter. What would I lose? A job where I had to be dishonest to keep the boss happy? No thanks.

That's what happened, though it took a while. I was fired to make room for someone who was a better team player. I'm so proud of that! And it's what I wish for you. To remember that you're your own boss, even if you work for someone else.