Marching to their own Drum
Meet the innovators and upstarts who are inventing the future of business. Their unconventional ideas and groundbreaking strategies of the twenty-first century, at least for them, is a better way to lead, compete and succeed. Maverick leaders sometimes make the cover of your favorite magazine because of their creative, innovative and original thinking. These include the late Steve Jobs of Apple fame, Sir Richard Branson –Virgin Airline, Oprah Winfrey, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, and Philip Knight of Nike.
Whether you call them unconventional, exceptional, extraordinary or even trailblazers, these individuals lead differently because they have a burning desire to challenge the status quo. These rule breakers stick to their guns according to William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre’s book entitled Mavericks at Work. Described by most as independent in thought and action, mavericks view things differently and not only consider alternatives to traditional ways of doing things, they act on those alternatives. Bill Sutton of Stanford wrote, “I believe that mavericks…go against the grain are essential to innovation.”
Do you know that it is likely that 20% of your employees (your top performers) are mavericks?
“The best maverick managers make the world go round. Without them many great companies and industries could not exist.” – Robert Heller
There is no school you can attend to learn and develop the skills of a maverick leader. These leaders are forward thinkers- Obey their own instincts and intellects, and none of these movers and shakers can ever be described as conformist. Mavericks are the independent innovators or performers who may often come up with quirky ideas. They think and act differently. Many mavericks take delight in shaking things up. Successful mavericks:
• Typically get what they want
• Are influential at most levels
• Have the support they need
• Are recognized for their expertise and talent
Mavericks tend to be poor team players, demonstrate the ability to communicate well and influence others. Research finds that maverick’s primarily are male, prefer to work individually, may seem abrasive, are mostly extroverted, and are open to new experiences and in taking risks.
Maverick leaders win big in business by rethinking the logic of how business gets done. Being on the cutting edge, workplace mavericks are described as people who are creative problem-solvers, quick decision-makers, goal-oriented, and independent thinkers who can be brilliant through their skills and talents. They can also be troublesome. They achieve success in novel and unorthodox ways.
Dr. Elliroma Gardiner from the London School of Economics and Political Science and Professor Chris Jackson of the University of South Wales say that “Being a maverick is more than just having an idea or a hunch pay off, it is about taking real risks and achieving in a way that is unique and unexpected.”
Many of today’s most inspiring businesses were created by maverick leaders who color outside the lines and thought “outside the box”. Maverick leaders balance innovation with what already exists and is successful that when given a slight shift can become a winning edge beyond initially expected. Many mavericks are found within organizations, fighting to bring innovation into corporate cultures that are not always receptive. This is when some mavericks decide to leave and begin their own start-ups.
In many organizations, leaders use the unconventional approach of letting their employees make decisions, rather than rely on the leader. Beyond this, some of these same leaders encourage their employees to use their critical thinking skills and discuss issues with their colleagues and co-workers. Does your organization place creativity above efficiency? Celebrate individual egos and elicit the best from each team member.
For some, being an Effective Leader means being a Maverick. Think about how creative and innovative you really are. When given the opportunity, would you sometimes like to create and produce something you want to show to others besides the “traditional” work you do on a daily basis? You may not be a full-fledge maverick, but your extraordinary side just may shine through.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it!” – Alan Kay