Hire rebellious people to improve your business

Hire rebellious people to improve your business
Gary Ashworth
Gary AshworthGary Ashworth

Posted: Tue 29th Mar 2022

The best business leaders surround themselves with rebels and disrupters, not a board of sycophants.

They realise that better business outcomes happen more often from conflict and radical debate than consistent agreement. Business heroes, artists and politicians often fail when they start to believe their own hype.

Consider Philip Green and Margaret Thatcher, who both fell over when they cleared out their dissenters and were left to their own devices.

They followed a common theme of rising to the level of success where they either weren’t challenged or refused to listen to those challenging them.

Rebels question the status quo and are instinctively contrary. But when managed properly, they can be invaluable assets to any business.

They make things happen, bring about change and can plant the seeds to transform entire organisations.

There are two types of rebels

Do the rebels have valid ideas that can change the way the company works or are they just troublemakers?

If the latter, there must be consequences for the disruption they cause.

It’s important to distinguish and separate the people who fundamentally have positive intent, from the rebellious individuals who just want to cause trouble. This kind of toxic behaviour needs to be stamped out immediately.

Understand the thinking of a (good) rebel

Most of the time, a rebel’s comments flow out of deep frustration and care for the organisation.

Often, observations, interesting questions and ideas come from people who see themselves as outsiders.

They flag issues that others aren’t prepared to talk about, or they notice emerging trends and see very clearly what customers want. True rebels are agents for change.

Encourage them

Most rebels are motivated by their ability to make a difference.

They can be creative and curious, sceptical, and easily bored. You may be surprised that beyond financial gain, just asking their opinion is often the greatest recognition they seek.

Let them know that you have heard them and keep them in the loop when their ideas come to fruition. Acknowledge the contribution they have made and credit them for it.

Help turn their thoughts into actions

There are good ideas on every street corner – it’s breaking through the red tape and executing those ideas that is the difficult part.

Disrupters can be loners who are often suspicious of working with others. They may become frustrated with the slow pace of change or colleagues who are cautious and happy to maintain the status quo, diluting their ideas.

This often means that they are not suitable to lead teams of 'completer finishers' – it may be more effective to let them think about the next new idea and allow more productive teams to drive the change itself.

If you really think about it, and are prepared to be challenged in this way, rebels and dissenters should be encouraged.

Another term for rebels and the alternate views they bring is simply 'diversity'. Hear their voices loudly and listen naively, don’t exile them to corporate Siberia. Even sacred cows need questioning every now and again.

Connect with Gary on Enterprise Nation today for more brilliant business support.

Gary Ashworth
Gary AshworthGary Ashworth

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