Rebel with(out) a cause


Warner Bros Entertainment Inc.

I don’t know about you, but to me lightbulb-moments often occur randomly when seemingly unconnected things all of a sudden connect so clearly. Recently, for me, three things were in the mix.

Which type are you?

First connection: So I saw this paper by Francesca Gino titled: ‘Let your workers rebel’, years after it was published in Harvard Business Review. I was really struck by the heading.

Many loathe the idea of stepping out of line to speak for others or for themselves. While others thrive in being a maverick, they like to be seen as a lone wolf in their business with an own independent mind-set.


Second connection: And then this request came along from a large newspaper: Compare and contrast the one politician in everybody’s mind with other world leaders! And then it clicked between this and the above. Do we see a type of rebel behaviour here? Is it a rebel with or without a cause? Or with a cause, yet for whom in particular? And maybe this ambiguity is what make people globally nervous or excited?

What does that mean for you and your organisation? Particularly if rebellion is outside the norms and rituals of your organisation. How do people interpret your behaviours and real intentions? To what extent do they think those reflect your purely individual interest or do they have good faith in your commitment to the shared agenda and collective aims?

Collective orientation

Third connection: And then this other new study by Benson, Hardy and Eys on followership appeared in my inbox. It looks at attributes of effective followership behaviour – in sport teams from the perspectives of the coaches. One facet stood out to me: Collective orientation, which is a bit like identification with and importance of shared aims and agenda.

So can we look for a rebel with a collective cause? That sounds quite different? Still it depends on the cause and for which collective it is a pressing issue– and for which NOT… As we currently see in the US and Europe likewise.

Try this.

Who are your rebels at work and in your other crucial spheres of life? How do you react to those rebels? Why? Do they rebel for the good of the organisation? Do they create the disruptions that many organisations so much long for?

Happy engaging – stay tuned.


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