Mav­er­icks don’t rebel, they fight what blocks their goals

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - By Paul Dupuis

At 15, Richard Bran­son started a mag­a­zine ‘Stu­dent’ be­cause “I was 15, didn’t like the way I was be­ing taught, wanted to get out of school and put the world right”. When Bran­son left school at the age of 17, his head­mas­ter made a pre­dic­tion: “Bran­son will ei­ther go to prison or be­come a mil­lion­aire.”

Bran­son proved the se­cond part of the pre­dic­tion right, and he sums up his suc­cess in­ter­est­ingly: “My in­ter­ests in life come from set­ting my­self huge and un­achiev­able chal­lenges — and then ris­ing above them.”

This is typ­i­cal of a gen­uine mav­er­ick — bril­liant & orig­i­nal, un­ortho­dox, in­de­pen­dent, and of­ten hard to un­der­stand & man­age. Dis­count­ing the mav­er­ick who crosses the line of bad be­hav­iour, here is a poser to or­gan­i­sa­tions and lead­ers: How do you man­age such tal­ented odd­balls in your work­force? ly, their minds work at a dif­fer­ent pace and tra­jec­tory. Bill Dray­ton, who founded Ashoka to in­tro­duce a game-chang­ing model of so­cial en­trepreneur­ship, is one such ex­am­ple. It was a truly trans­for­ma­tive in­no­va­tion of so­cial sys­tems that im­proved mil­lions of lives across the globe.

Be­hind the bril­liance that seems so non­cha­lant, mav­er­icks take their re­spon­si­bil­ity of mak­ing things bet­ter very se­ri­ously. They span the worlds of busi­ness, so­cial sys­tems, sports and cul­ture. The star­dust they sprin­kle is an un­de­fin­able mix ge­nius, quirk­i­ness, con­flict-cre­at­ing, and chal­leng­ing-the-sta­tus-quo.

Yet, be­hind the mav­er­ick’s per­ceived ec­cen­tric­i­ties lie some amaz­ing skills — of in­no­va­tion, risk-tak­ing, re­silience and per­se­ver­ance. They have an in­tense pas­sion to achieve by fol­low­ing goals that they set for them­selves. They do not see them­selves as break­ing rules, but as chart­ing a path to an im­proved way of de­liv­er­ing suc­cess. They have an amaz­ing abil­ity to move be­yond suc­cess and fail­ure to

of the next ‘to do’ — with con­vic­tion and a multi-faceted think­ing process. fight what­ever comes in the way of im­prov­ing the sta­tus quo.

Do they dis­rupt col­le­gial­ity in teams? Not quite re­ally. How­ever dif­fi­cult they may be to un­der­stand and man­age, mav­er­icks un­de­ni­ably and pos­i­tively im­pact out­comes and peo­ple. More of­ten than not, we will have team mem­bers ac­knowl­edge this fact — and will­ingly ac­cept their caprices and idio­syn­cra­sies.

I have heard lead­ers say that it is dif­fi­cult to align the rebel with the team’s or or­gan­i­sa­tion’s goals. Again, it de­pends on how lead­ers can push the right but­tons to ex­cite them into merg­ing their in­di­vid­u­al­ism with col­lec­tive achieve­ment. The ‘tell’ style does not work with the mav­er­ick. They need to hear and un­der­stand the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s big­ger pic­ture be­fore they will chan­nelise their en­ergy to sup­port it. But here is the bonus — when the leader gets it right, a vir­tu­ous cir­cle of trust and tal­ent is cre­ated to achieve in­cred­i­ble re­sults. Lead­ers need to pro­tect the mav­er­ick, while align­ing them with the or­gan­i­sa­tion and con­vinc­ing them that col­lec­tive in­tel­li­gence mat­ters in a team.

Man­ag­ing such od­dball wiz­ards calls for three im­por­tant ac­tions. One, give them space to ex­er­cise in­de­pen­dent and in­no­va­tive think­ing. Two, cre­ate a safe zone for healthy dis­agree­ments. Re­move mis­con­cep­tions of right and wrong, of win­ners and losers. Three, al­low them to fail fast and move on.

Man­ag­ing mav­er­icks is a tightrope walk to al­low their minds the free­dom to ex­plore, while hold­ing them on a leash of right be­hav­iour and at­ti­tude to or­gan­i­sa­tional values. Thewri­ter­isMD&CEO,


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