Last week I attended a seminar on ‘Managing Mavericks’ and was lucky enough to see Lembit Opik speak on getting the very best from independent thinkers. Mavericks can apparently be left or right brain dominant. The left brain tends to be more logical, while the right brain tends to be more emotional; when more emphasis is placed on one area of the brain over another maverick behaviour can surface. By definition, a maverick is a ‘lone dissenter…who takes an independent stand away from associates’ or someone ‘unconventional, unorthodox, nonconformist’.

Lembit himself admitted times of maverick behaviour. He has a very unconventional background in politics and included examples of Nadine Dorries, Lady Gaga and Tommy Copper as other mavericks. Who can forget Lady Gaga’s meat dress or Nadine’s unexpected appearance on ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here’? Their behaviour has been outside of the ‘norm’ and reactions from ‘straight thinkers’ have been filled with discouragement.

Mavericks like ‘macro chaos’ and ‘micro order’ and they dislike the establishment and the enforcement of norms. However, whilst this might work in the music world, it can be viewed as very disruptive in a professional environment. To that end, my worry is that in a working environment  if everyone is working within a predefined box, how can a business change and move forward? Boris Johnson, for example, could be considered a maverick;  even though he enforces the rules, getting ‘caught’ on the zip wire during London 2012 caused him to be seen as a laughing stock by some in Parliament. However, to some of the public it made him appear more accessible and increased his popularity – could City Hall have moved forward without him? 

Making room for authentic mavericks can stimulate courageous progress and create new products or services if they are nurtured in the right way. Lembit advises us to enjoy the unconventional and make space for out of the box thinking. 

Do you employ a hidden maverick within your organisation?

Zoe is a Consultant in London and loves a little ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here’

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