Do you think of yourself as a rebel? Last week, I had the privilege to attend Pop Tech in Camden, Maine. The theme of this year’s event was Rebellion. We heard from scientists, artists, academics, activists, authors and even a hacker.
One benefit of events like Pop Tech is their ability to stimulate questions. These questions, like a grain of sand in an oyster, can sometimes become a pearl of insight. During the event, many questions surfaced for me personally. One of them: Are leaders supposed to be rebels?
What comes to mind when I say the word rebel? Is it a positive term? For many of you the term has a negative connotation – it shouldn’t. It’s at the heart of what you and I are supposed to do.
Here’s a grain of sand for you to consider…
To be a rebel literally means, “One who rises in opposition.” Yes, some definitions mention “armed resistance” – that’s not the facet of rebellion I want us to think about here.
There are many things you and I should rise in opposition (rebel) against. Here are a few of them…
The Status Quo – As leaders, we are charged with creating a future that’s a better version of today -- impossible while clinging to the past. The trick is knowing what to retain and what to reinvent. However, if we rebel against nothing, we can create nothing new and the vision will go unfulfilled. Progress is always preceded by change.
Disempowering Leadership – In today’s world, far too many leaders are still operating under Fredrick Taylor’s admonition from more than a hundred years ago: Leaders think – supervisors talk – workers work. When we see this type of leadership in our organizations, we must rise up. For every pair of hands you hire, you get a free brain – steward them well.
Misalignment – This is like leaks in a garden hose. The pressure of the water is lost and cannot be applied as needed. When leaders allow teams, or worse, organizations, to be misaligned, the talents of the organization are spilled out rather than channeled for maximum impact. Alignment should always be on the leader’s short list of priorities.
Disengagement – Complacency is a cancer in organizations. The work you lead is too important to have people on the team who don’t care. One of our responsibilities is to identify and solve for the root causes for disengagement. If we don’t rise up in this arena, we abdicate our leadership and leave tremendous untapped potential on the table.
Outdated Methods – I love the quote from Yogi Berra, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” The only problem with it: it’s not true! In our world, ideas, strategies and tactics have a diminishing half-life. The strategies and tactics of the past will almost assuredly not work in the future. When we find our organizations clutching irrationally to outdated methods, we must rebel.
I’ll stop with these few although my list is longer. You may want to make your own list. Think of it as an appendix to your job description.
Be a rebel… rise up and lead![GLS_Shield]
What’s on your list of things a leader should rise up against?