M6D1:Loyalty and WhistleblowingYou may have never heard of the term, “loyal dissent” and it certainly sounds like an oxymoron. How can you be both loyal and dissent in such a way not to harm the orga


M6D1:Loyalty and Whistleblowing

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M6D1:Loyalty and WhistleblowingYou may have never heard of the term, “loyal dissent” and it certainly sounds like an oxymoron. How can you be both loyal and dissent in such a way not to harm the orga
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You may have never heard of the term, “loyal dissent” and it certainly sounds like an oxymoron.  How can you be both loyal and dissent in such a way not to harm the organization? No matter where you are on the leadership ladder, you may, at one time or another, have to face such an ethical dilemma. Let’s begin by defining and describing loyal dissent.

In his blog (December 13, 2013), The Leader Maker (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., Douglas R. Satterfield, describes loyal dissent as an obligation of an employee to present a dissenting view if things are not right but to do so in such a way to ensure loyalty to the company and the boss

In this module, you will read and discuss several issues of loyal dissent and whistleblowing. You will read some short case studies illustrating what happens when people speak up and the process for doing it. You will have several readings and a documentary film to watch on the Challenger disaster. You may never find yourself in a life or death situation but it is likely that within your career, you will encounter a reason to become a loyal dissenter or at the very least, work with someone who is.  Where do you start?  Who do you turn to? When is the right time?

  • Discuss the nature of “loyalty” and the conflicts associated with divided loyalty (CO4, 5).
  • Articulate the ethical dimensions of “whistleblowing” (CO4, 5).

The purpose of this activity is to examine the concept of loyalty and its possible extreme of whistleblowing.  Can you be both loyal to your organization while also being a whistleblower?  This can be a difficult ethical decision as on one hand you need to do what’s right but on the other, being a whistleblower can put you at odds with your co-workers, your boss, or even the United States government.  Think through what loyalty means to you and what does it take to be a whistleblower.

Turning again to the Satterfield blog from 2013, here are a few tips that might give you some insight:

  1. Ensure the issue is truly worthy. If it is important, then you should act.
  2. Focus on the issue, not the person. Personalizing the issue can have negative effects.
  3. Be objective and balanced. Being emotionally involved can distort one’s approach.
  4. Expect change or action by others to be slow.
  5. Be early. Waiting too late to present your side can work against your position.
  6. Recognize you may be wrong.


Satterfield, D. R. (2013). Loyal dissent. Retrieved from http://www.theleadermaker.com/loyal-dissent


Based on the readings and activities for this module, answer the following questions:

  • Was Richard C. Cook loyal to NASA when he discussed the O-Ring problem? Why or why not?
  • How could the Challenger disaster have been prevented in your estimation? Were the NASA engineers whistleblowers?
  • Describe how whistleblowing may be an ethical dilemma and provide examples (refer to your readings or provide some first-hand examples).

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