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