A rebel on your payroll can help you beat your competition, or if you are the rebel, drastically improve your career.
By rebel, I don’t mean the punk in spiked leather breaking beer bottles on the cop car, while battling his arch nemesis: the inner conflict of the man-child crying for his mother’s love.
No, by rebel I mean the man or woman who is allowed to challenge the status quo, lend a different perspective, innovate, and be fearless from receiving the usual repercussions of questioning their boss.
Here are five reasons why having a rebel on staff, or being the rebel yourself, can be beneficial.
1: I Challenge You, Good Sir, to a Duel!
The signature trait of a great rebel is someone who challenges the rule because the rule holds back progress.
Challenging the rule — questioning its validity and if its still applicable — ensures that either it is effective or destructive.
A challenge to a rule is to test its validity and applicability to how things are now, or in the future.
For example: It may have been a rule that refunds could only be given to customers if they could find a defect in the product. More often today, though, it’s almost a requirement that refunds can be given with little or no questions, and all money back.
Challenging rules can also reveal if they are effective or not. By being able to voice an opposing view about a rule, the rebel can bring to light rules that may be harming employee performance or customer satisfaction.
2: “I’m Not Afraid Anymore!”
Yes you are.
Rebels have fear, but they have more courage. Over time, they listen less and less to the fear because they listen more to their courage.
In business, employees can easily become complacent, turning into yes men and yes women. This may feel great if you’re the leader, for awhile.
If nobody rocks the boat though, it’s bound to stay at sea. If your people don’t do it, then surely the ocean will, and won’t be so forgiving for your crew’s complacency.
By allowing a rebel to be courageous without as much punishment, they can tell the truth, and keep the ship on course. A great rebel would have the courage to tell the captain about the whirlpool a mile ahead.
A great leader would check the facts and perspective of the rebel before deciding which way to row the boat.
3: I See Things a Different Way
A rebel breaks the rules to cause havoc, if it’s their intention. The rebel in the workplace doesn’t intend to harm others, but seeks to bring a new perspective.
While the leader may view things one way, and keep pushing for it to be that way, the rest of his crew may just row along in whatever direction they are told.
The rebel will see the rocks in the waves the captain overlooked, or the oncoming storm that’s on the horizon — further than where the captain was looking.
- Having different perspectives allows new ideas and concepts to emerge.
- Having different perspectives allows a rebel to point out the hole in the bottom of the ship, when everyone else thought it was going to be a pleasant cruise.
- Having different perspectives grants the rebel the opportunity to see how the competition may take over, and offer a solution to head them off before the ship is sunk.
4: Captain, oh Captain! Stay my Captain
If comfort is the killer of ambition, then challenge is its fuel.
People who have all they want can fall into the trap of comfort. When people are comfortable, it’s easy to be blindsided by competition.
A rebel in the workplace should question and challenge the leadership, to keep them from sitting comfortably. If the rebel is the leader, they should create a community of fearless innovation.
The job of the rebel on any ship is to ignite the captain’s responsibility to keep the crew headed toward its destination, and to ensure the captain doesn’t become so comfortable in his navigator that the course they set doesn’t bring them to peril.
Another benefit of having a rebel on the workforce is that it grants leaders an opportunity to flex their muscle. By flexing their muscle, they can remain strong, grow, and push themselves further ahead toward the goals.
A requirement of innovation is to make something exponentially better. If everyone is fine with how things are, there will be sameness, conformity, and eventually, a lack of growth and ambition.
A rebel doesn’t accept every rigid rule as the only way things can be done. They seek to find new ways to do things, which can be itself an innovation.
Instead of sticking with the same old ways, a rebel can find ways to do the same, or more, using less resources. They can be resourceful, which is innovative.
Even if the idea is outlandish, weird, strange, or odd, a rebel should be allowed to pursue that path. In order for innovation to exist, one must be allowed to experiment; give the rebel free reign to try new and different things.
We must not forget that a rebel is still an employee, and must be treated as such. They should still be held to the same standards — and a standard is a bare minimum of quality — as other employees, with one exception:
The rebel must be allowed to question the decisions of his or her leaders without immediate dismissal. Of course, derogatory, insults, and anything illegal, should not be tolerated; anything that diminishes a person’s character should not be tolerated.
If you could be a rebel at work, what would you do?