Enjoy this guest blog from friend and client, Amanda Reilly!
What Can We Learn from Rebel Leaders?
By Amanda F. Reilly, MS, MBA
Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino’s Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life is an inspiring read for change agents in any industry. One significant paradox of professional life today is the contradictory status of the rebel – the employee who challenges the status quo. Today, most managers are tasked with shaking things up and asking their employees to do the same. This maxim has become part of workplace nomenclature, but “shaking things up” means different things to different people. How can we be different and creative yet still uphold the corporate values of our organizations? How can we implement improvements and make change stick? Many of us struggle to find the answers to these questions.
Although Gino started her research project as a way to understand the psychology of rule breaking in the workplace, it morphed into something more – a compendium of short stories and nuggets of wisdom about people who rebelled against norms, reframed problems, and crafted innovative solutions. As she points out, we often hold on to what we know, replicating and applying similar approaches for every problem. Gino explains that we “adhere to social norms – the unwritten rules about how to behave in a particular culture, society, or social group, ranging from a friendship to a work team to a nation” (Gino, p. 8). But that approach does not move one forward in business or in life. Instead, having the courage to break free from the confines of this thinking – and to be a bit rebellious – can help push us toward innovative solutions. As Gino remarks, “Rule breaking does not have to get us into trouble, if done correctly and in the right doses – in fact, it can help us get ahead” (p. xvi).
Rebels can literally be found everywhere. As an example, Gino uses Napoleon Bonaparte’s unconventional and empathetic leadership style, which engaged and motivated his troops to win battles. Captain Chesley Sullenberger – the hero pilot better known as “Sully” – had a commitment to lifelong learning that led him to fight the complacency of routine and to reframe every flight as an opportunity to learn “some new knowledge or insight he had not considered before” (p. 85). Sully also took great care to understand how mistakes happened; he “learned from cases where human judgment failed under pressure” and viewed “expertise . . . as a continuous process” (p. 89). And Chef Massimo Bottura, owner and chef of Osteria Francescana, who was recently featured on the 60 Minutes segment “The Pavarotti of Pasta” is a “humble rebel” in the food industry. Bottura, who values learning and experience over sticking to tradition, reflects that “when you think you know everything, you’ve stopped growing. . . . [K]eep your eyes open and ask questions. You should always keep the door open to the unexpected” (p. 222).
According to Gino’s research, you can easily practice cultivating the five core elements that are essential in a rebel leader, simply by adjusting your mind-set:
We all have the ability to enact change and be a positive, productive rebel. Learning from others who have led from the trenches, we can examine our own path to see how small wins slowly push the needle toward innovation, creative enrichment, and fulfillment in both our professional and personal lives.
Gino, Francesca. (2018). Rebel Talent: Why it pays to break the rules at work and in life. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
CBS. Chef Massimo Bottura: The Pavarotti of Pasta [Video file). (2018, December 30). Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chef-massimo-bottura-the-pavarotti-of-pasta-60-minutes-interview/
What are the unique skills, insights and experiences that each one of your employees, colleagues, and clients bring to their work? Cultural diversity is on the rise and five generations are working side-by-side. Success demands that we ignore the stereotypes and make genuine connections with people.
Tune-up your leadership skills with help from Rebecca Knight’s Managing People From 5 Generations.
When you peer into your crystal ball, do you see a career move in your future? If yes, you’re in good company. Twenty-eight percent of people surveyed by University of Phoenix hope to change jobs within a year and are either actively looking or will consider a move for the right opportunity. Your success in landing the best job hinges on the people in your network, the colleagues and friends who will alert you to new opportunities before they are posted and introduce you to their colleagues who are influencing decisions or doing the hiring.
Who do you want to add to your network? It’s OK to blur the lines between your personal and professional life. If you are female, you’ll see in this excerpt from a recent study, Understanding the Dynamics of Network Inequality that it’s especially important to think strategically and approach events with a plan that targets the specific attendees you want to meet. In an experiment at an I. T. conference, attendees received an e-mail with networking recommendations from the conference organizer four days in advance. In the control group that received generic advice, “women met fewer new contacts, spent less time talking to them, and added fewer connections on LinkedIn” than men did. However, naming specific (though randomly selected) attendees to connect with allowed women to increase “the number of new contacts met by 57%, the time spent talking with new contacts by 90%, the number of connections added on LinkedIn by 29%, and the odds of changing jobs in the 12 months after the event by 1.6.”
Looking for a networking recharge? Checkout Andrea Nierenberg’s 9-step I.N.C.E.N.T.I.V.E system.
We are so happy to be presenting the Unleash the Power of Your Story workshop on May 30! A good story can lead to new business, motivate people to support an important cause, or foster new relationships. Everyone has many stories - the challenge is deciding which story to tell and then telling it well. In this fun, interactive, and supportive workshop, learn how to craft stories that make an impact from expert storyteller Cheryl Hamilton.
Cheryl Hamilton is a relentless storyteller and professional public speaking consultant. She routinely appears in productions throughout New England, including on The Moth MainStage, Soundbites, and The Corner. She is also the director of Massmouth, a Boston-based non-profit organization that promotes the timeless art of storytelling. In her role, she curates the national television show Stories from the Stage in partnership with WGBH and World Channel. She is also the creator and curator for Suitcase Stories, a performance series that honors refugees and immigrants. Cheryl has delivered thousands of presentations nationwide for audiences of 5 to 1,500. Learn more at www.cherylhamilton.com.
In an open office, “headphones are replacing walls when people want to block out everything (and everyone) in order to concentrate.” In his latest column, When Headphones Get in the Way of Office Communication, New York Times Workologist, Rob Walker offers advice that’s universal. No one appreciates being interrupted mid-thought or mid-project. The next time you want someone’s input or ideas, choose the right approach:
Since they can’t wait to share their ideas, and enlist you as their sounding board and brainstorm buddy, the extroverts among us could lead us to believe that they’ve got a lock on innovative ideas. Change makers Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rosa Parks would quietly disagree. If you’re curious about what the other half is thinking, ask them.
Soliciting ideas from observant and deep thinking introverts calls for curiosity, carefully observing people in action, and subtly adapting our communication style to match theirs. When you meet people where they are and you ask what they think, await their reply, then acknowledge them, you send a powerful message: you value their ideas and respect a myriad of different approaches to thinking, learning and communicating.
In the first of this series of blogs we explored the core question, “WHY does your business exist?” Once you uncovered the answer, we explored HOW you will achieve purpose. Now we’ll explore how critical it is to really get through the first two questions before you can answer the third and final question in Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle infographic. “WHAT should you do to deliver on the promise of your WHY?”
Late last week, starting with WHY, helped Dan uncover the root of a problem that’s been plaguing him for weeks. He showed-up wondering how he could motivate one of his long-term employees (sound familiar?) now that he’s taken the on a high-profile project for implementing a new program for their human services clients.
In the first of this series of blogs we explored the all-important question, “WHY does your business exist?” In this blog we will explore the second question in Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle infographic, “HOW are you delivering on the promise of your WHY?”
Put your business plan on the shelf for now – and if you don’t have one, that’s even better. To answer HOW, read on to learn how you can marshal all the resources it takes to explore every possibility, gain important insights, and challenge your perceptions and expectations. In the final blog in the series, you’ll meet the challenge of WHAT and you’ll be fully prepared to create a business plan that brings your WHY to life.
Unleashing your potential for entrepreneurial success. Part 1 in a 3 Part Series: The Why, How and What for Bringing Your Idea to Life
Ideas are the sparks that ignite curiosity and spawn entrepreneurial success. Are you itching to turn your idea into a service or product people will buy? Imagine that you are talking to a 6-year-old. Hold the hype, jargon and industry buzzwords and describe your idea in the simplest terms. With that as our starting point, let’s explore the possibilities with the help of author and TED Talk favorite, Simon Sinek. Read a Brand Genetics summary of his book, WHY? And watch his popular TED Talk.
Sinek poses the question, What’s the fundamental difference between the “Apples” of the world and everyone else? They start with one the question, Why?
Blame it on the full moon!
For the first time in over 10 years, I created a vision board in less than an hour and without cutting and pasting. I used PowerPoint to design a free-form collage around a picture of a very happy me that includes images and phrases that I collected on-line. My vision board is now the wallpaper on my phone, the first page in my daily planner and a picture on my nightstand.
What are you dreaming about? If you’re ready to create a vision board, start with