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Judith Germain

The Maverick Paradox

Maverick Catalyst

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Do you need a hybrid mindset to go with your hybrid working?

Leaders need to take a more maverick approach to ensure all stakeholders are aligned and supportive of their organisations' goals
Hybrid mindset

There’s been a lot of talk about hybrid working recently and a myriad of different definitions for it. Although many organisations prefer to believe that hybrid working is binary, it would be wrong to plan or think this way. 

Successful leaders look at many potential solutions before narrowing to the one most likely to succeed, in the given circumstances and context

The Oxford Online Dictionary defines the word hybrid as both a noun: ‘the offspring of two plants or animals of different species or varieties, such as a mule: “the bird was a hybrid of a goose and a swan”’, or as an adjective: ‘of mixed character; composed of different elements: “hybrid diesel-electric buses”’.

Perhaps what makes Maverick Leaders effective is their inability to have a binary mindset? Their natural inclination to reject being forced (whether that is covert or overt) to think in an either-or way. Successful leaders look at many potential solutions before narrowing to the one most likely to succeed, in the given circumstances and context. 

Therefore, they see the concept ‘hybrid’ through the lens of this definition: ‘one of mixed character, composed of different elements’. Hybrid working is not the binary of working in or out of the office. To really understand ‘hybrid’ you need an agile mind and a Maverick Mindset applied to how business is conducted today.

The Maverick Mindset

Since 2005 I have been defining the term ‘Maverick’ to mean ‘a wilfully independent person’ and in the context of this article I will examine the Maverick Mindset and how it relates to having a hybrid thinking mindset. 

The importance of character

Great leaders recognise that their character and those that they associate with, is important. It’s a reflection on their leadership and what they value. Reputation is the interplay of congruence, integrity, and capability. Leadership is personal and reputation determines how easy you will find your ability to lead.

Therefore, when considering the various aspects of hybrid working, leaders should be aware that how their decisions are strategised, communicated, and implemented will demonstrate their character and affect how the workforce (and other stakeholders) relate to them and the company.

Extreme problem solving

Effective Maverick Leaders look for the flaw in the argument and are not upset if they can’t find any! This is because seeking flaws is a diagnostic process not an ego enhancing one! Having an open and inclusive mindset is the key to good leadership.

An example might mean your hybrid thinking mindset must consider all types of inclusivity. For example, are your working practises just and equitable for all? This includes neurodiversity and those affected by special characteristics and those that are not!

Late Millennials and Generation Z individuals are particularly sensitive to perceived areas of injustice and will lead with their feet (perhaps straight to social media!), if they do not like what they see and hear.

Mavericks believe in the brutal truth, whatever the cost

This is not a call out for hurtful behaviour! This is a reminder that those with a hybrid thinking mindset are concerned with the truth and have the courage to raise contentious issues with the official hybrid working policy. The organisation’s stakeholders rely on the HR professional to be courageous and to stand for the truth, especially when it is difficult to do so. 

Despite appearances, the Maverick is an intellectual pursuit and not an emotional one and should be emulated by all leaders who want to succeed in their roles

Indiscriminate challenge of all things

The most dominate role that a Maverick will assume in a group or team is Devil’s Advocate and looking for flaws it is a primary diagnostic tool for them. It isn’t necessarily a challenge of authority, more a way to ensure that all possible solutions or problems have been appropriately surfaced, so that real, sustainable change can occur.

Despite appearances, the Maverick is an intellectual pursuit and not an emotional one and should be emulated by all leaders who want to succeed in their roles. When a Maverick Leader is playing Devil’s Advocate, they are testing possibilities and how attached you are to them. It’s an important test of the data that they have been presented with.

They are looking for the best solution to the problem and are not interested in the status quo or what has happened before (unless they have tested the current method and are satisfied that it is still fit for purpose). This is an ideal mindset to have with hybrid working as the conditions for the working environment is in constant flux and will need observing and changing on a regular basis. 

A test of credibility and integrity

Challenge is an excellent way of testing someone’s credibility and integrity. We have seen workers’ propensity to constantly test whether their leaders maintain their credibility and integrity over how they interact with them in relation to their working day, increase sine Covid hit. 

Without a crystal ball, we do not know without any real certainty what the future holds

In these times Maverick Leaders with a hybrid thinking mindset, recognise that they are not the only ones interested in testing the individual, and the flaws in an argument/discussion or idea/process. Excellent problem solvers, they will look to see whether the current hybrid model is holistic in its outlook, and designed to achieve desired outcomes.

Without a crystal ball, we do not know without any real certainty what the future holds. We can, however, look at patterns, and plan for those patterns with some certainty. We need more than a binary view of the world; we need a Maverick Mindset that is applied to a true hybrid thinking mindset, so that all stakeholders are aligned and supportive of the organisation’s aims.

Interested in this topic? Read Talent optimisation in the hybrid workplace.

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Judith Germain

Maverick Catalyst

Read more from Judith Germain
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