Companies often do not want to keep employees who do not conform. Just look at the myriad of policies, procedures and the many unwritten rules on how to conform to get along. Yet … there are books and movies about wildly successful entrepreneurs. They were once employees themselves. Employees who challenged the status quo within corporate America in order to create a big win, either for themselves or for the company.
How do you offer a challenging voice? What if you see a way to avoid strategic and tactical maneuvers that will not work? How do you push innovation when the company is fearful of operating outside the norm? How do you manage your boss who believes nothing will surpass him/her? The good news is that leaders – every one of them – has a rebel inside. The challenge is, how far you can let your rebel loose without triggering career derailment?
Poke Holes in Strategies. Play devil’s advocate by asking business questions that may not have been considered. Remember, nothing is perfect! However, be careful not to criticize people, their values or their apparent inability to think outside the box! Acknowledge their contribution, regardless of the flaws in their logic. With some development, these flaws could bring about an out-of-the box solution! Or, at a minimum, become stepping stones on which to build a solution and get everyone on the same page.
Know when to step back. Going too far can result in a backlash, even if you’re right. Know the issues, who is pushing them and why. Have one-on-one conversations to determine win-win resolutions or at least, options everyone could live with. Sometimes your inner rebel sees too big of a picture. You need to be willing to take smaller steps to get everyone in sync! Reduce fear of change with communication and reinforcement; it can be impossible for others to see where you are going without showing them your map.
Celebrate! Have a celebration for everyone on the team. Acknowledge what worked. Write down objective reasons on what didn’t word for future modifications. Remember, it’s a team effort that provided the results. They will acknowledge you as their leader if you take the time to appreciate their contributions.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2011
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