A friend taught me a new word tonight, one she had learned from her daughter. It is myrmidon. Actually it is a pretty old word, but I had never heard it.
From this source, we get the following definition: "A loyal follower; especially: a subordinate who executes orders unquestioningly or unscrupulously."
One of the dangers for a CEO is the tendency for your subordinates to take what you say, sometimes in passing, and execute it to a degree you never intended. Henry II, a pretty high ranking "CEO," discovered this after he said in exasperation one day, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?"
I always try to surround myself with people who will question my assertions and conclusions, but even at BIDMC where (trust me!), very little goes unquestioned, I have had people behave like myrmidons. From time to time, people have assumed that I meant something I did not and then proceeded to design whole systems to make sure it would be implemented, even to the point of ignoring or covering up substantive and documented facts and factors that would make the conclusions impractical or unrealistic. Such is the unintentioned power of the office.
Do you have stories of similar phenomena? Please post.