Have you stopped following the rules at work?  You’re probably thinking “Of course not.”  How dare I even propose such a ridiculous accusation.  Shame on me.  But just suppose what I’m suggesting isn’t too far from the truth.  If you were gut-level honest with yourself, are you “really” following all the rules at work?   This is one of the most subtle of all of the rock star traps.  It can happen with the most innocent beginnings and it can end with some of the most severe consequences.  Here are some of the most common examples of subtly (or not so subtly) refusing to follow the rules at work:

  • I’m working on my schedule, not theirs – You’re used to getting things done on whatever timetable it takes, even when that means putting in the big hours at work.  So, naturally, when things slow down you want to “balance things out” and take some extra time in the slow periods to take care of things in life you need to get done.  You declare you are “working from home.”  Others are declaring you “big headed.”
  • That new policy is ridiculous and I’m not following it – just like the example of the rock star retailer who refused to embrace the new corporate policy of selling credit cards (see: Warning signs you are losing your fans – Part 2), you may be thinking to yourself “what do these people know… nothing.  I know what needs to get done around here and I know how to produce.  As long as I get results, why should they care?”  Oh, they care, and they are watching to see who’s onboard.
  • With all I do, it’s only fair – This statement is a slippery slope.  It begins with subtle things like taking home pens and paper from work.  It can quickly move into “bending” the rules with expenses so you can get the points you want or that delicious porterhouse when you are on that rough business trip.  Recently a judge was accused of bending such rules.  In the end, she had set her own rules on who could visit her and when in her courtroom (interfering with public access), she had inmates working at her church without compensation, and she had taken steps to clear a male companion of his child support obligations so he could travel with her on a romantic getaway.  I’m sure it all began with a rationalization of how it was “only fair” given all she does.

Holding aside the moral, ethical and legal pitfalls that accompany the above traps, the most important thing to remember is that leaders today, regardless of the organization, are looking for the rock star employees that they can trust.  If you look rogue, they won’t be ready to trust you with that promotion or that big opportunity you have been hoping for.  And in organizations where times are tough and it is a struggle to stay afloat, leaders are looking for employees who will follow orders down to the letter, period.  If you aren’t one of those, you will likely find yourself tossed overboard – guitar and all.