We love the unconventional…the exceptional…the extraordinary…the trailblazing leaders. These individuals lead differently because they have an insane and innate desire to challenge the status quo. Call us smitten. We’re not alone in our infatuation either. According to the book by William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre entitled Mavericks at Work
, they described such rule breakers as “mavericks” – leaders who see things differently in an untraditional way and act on those alternatives. Certainly, the best maverick managers make the world go round. Without them many great companies and industries just simply wouldn’t exist. You might say that we’re stating the obvious. So how about this zinger, did you know that it is likely that 20% of your employees (your top performers) are mavericks? Fantastic we say! But, what about the other 80%??
We’ll accept that not everyone is a born leader, but wouldn’t it be great to tap into those resources? Sadly, inspiring risk-taking is an underutilized leadership skill because so many organizations work to minimize, identify, label, measure and even punish risk. Chances are that your employees are doing a “risk/reward” calculation in their head and deciding if the pain is worth the gain. So how can you – our maverick leaders – help your teams develop some ‘maverick-like’ skills?
- Give your team the freedom to make mistakes. We all make mistakes. And we’ve all read enough business articles and books to know that the process is the best way to learn and grow. Mistakes are the pathway to great ideas and innovation. Look at it this way…mistake are simply the process of eliminating things that won’t work so that you can get closer to the ways that will. Because, one reason why employees are not thinking out-of-the-box or coming up with solution that are vastly different from how things used to be done is that they may be afraid of the repercussions of making mistakes. Risk-taking has to be encouraged and be seen as a norm in the organization. Developing a creative culture takes time, but it starts off with management being more open-minded and less judgmental to the suggestions by employees.
- Let your team ask questions. Ok Maverick, remember this. When an employee comes to you and has an issue with the current status quo, take that as an opportunity to get curious with them and ask questions about why it’s not working, and what they would do to fix it. These one-on-one opportunities with your team are great ways to, little by little, shift away from the current state of affairs towards something more meaningful.
- Produce a work environment in which employees feel charged–almost compelled–to be creative Having motivation to be creative may be enough for some employees, but a strong innovative environment provides tools to help employees excel at creativity too. Things like professional training, tools, and time dedicated to creative thinking, are all an employee needs to take that extra little idea or question they have and make it the next big innovation for the company. Given the motivation and resources to encourage creative thinking, employees often drive themselves to do just that: be creative and drive innovation.
- Reward Self-Improvement (courtesy of Inc) “Many leaders complain that employees are stagnant but do little to help them grow. In such cases, somehow management has the idea that promotion and money are sufficient to get people to advance. More often than not, people don’t have the resources or knowledge of what to do. Many entrepreneurs are so accustomed to self-improvement that they assume everyone thinks the same way. Budget dollars and time toward management and personal development training. Help employees set a plan for growth and reward them as they advance. They’ll be grateful and apply their newly-learned skills as they step up to leadership opportunities.”