Dr Ree Jordan, a lecturer in management at the UQ Business School conducted research into organisational ‘mavericks’ – independently-minded individuals who think differently and get results, despite not following the rules.
The research results have been translated into five lessons that up-and-coming leaders can use to settle into a new job and influence from day one, without compromising their uniqueness.
“Like the Top Gun character, they (organisational mavericks) tend to question and challenge how things are done, but usually for the greater good of the organisation. The insights of mavericks offer us lessons on how we can all strive towards a place of fulfilment when starting a new job,” said Dr Jordan.
5 Lessons And Tips From Organisational Mavericks When Starting A New Job
1. Be Confident With Who You Are And Who You Are Not
Mavericks are confident, authentic individuals who know their strengths and understand their limitations. This gives them clarity on the types of activities and tasks they wish to contribute to and will succeed at.
By understanding their limitations, they either strive to develop in these areas or recognise that some skill gaps are outside their ability or interest and are best provided by other talented individuals.
In the first 90 days of a new job: Know who you are and what you want from this job.
Not every job is perfect, and you’ll often need to make compromises, but be clear on what you want to gain from the experience and what your non-negotiables are (i.e. what you’re not prepared to give up on).
2. Develop And Maintain Large Eclectic Networks
Mavericks are interested in people from all walks of life as they’re intrigued by novel and exciting experiences, so they cultivate and maintain large eclectic networks.
As they enjoy developing interesting connections, mavericks are good at building rapport and bringing people and ideas together.
In the first 90 days of a new job: Expand your networks by getting to know as many of your colleagues, clients, and stakeholders as possible.
Be curious about who your colleagues are and where their interests lie. This will help you to become a connector and introduce like-minded people, find a mentor or three and start to build your ‘tribe’.
3. Practise Thinking Outside The Box
Thinking outside the box comes naturally to mavericks. Due to their creativity and breadth of life experiences, mavericks can imagine possibilities others haven’t thought of, making them great sources for alternative ideas and solutions to complex problems.
In the first 90 days of a new job: We can all learn to be a little more creative in our problem-solving and idea generation. Make time to practise stretching your thinking beyond ideas and solutions that immediately come to mind. You can do this on the bus on the way to or from work.
Try to come up with at least 10 different ideas a day, no matter how silly they sound. You don’t need to tell anyone these ideas. The main point is to teach your brain to seek solutions and come up with ideas beyond those that are easily accessed from ‘within the box’. You’ll be surprised how good you get at this in 90 days!
4. Challenge The Status Quo
As ‘rebels with a cause’, mavericks are great at identifying what isn’t working and challenging the status quo. However, they’re also good at coming up with solutions rather than just complaining. Their disruption is purposefully focused on improvement, with the intention of making a difference for the greater good – not merely ‘stirring the pot’ for the fun of it.
In the first 90 days of a new job: Impression management is key if you want to challenge the status quo in the future. People are quick to make judgements about others. How do you want your new colleagues to see you? Confident, hesitant, curious? Starting a new job is an opportunity to present the best version of yourself and set you up to continue that way.
5. Learn To Navigate The Political Landscape
Mavericks are politically skilful individuals who understand their work environment and the ‘rules of play’. They’re highly skilled in navigating both social and organisational politics while working strategically within ‘the organisational game’.
By knowing ‘who’s who in the zoo’ and identifying the key players and influencers, mavericks quickly learn which rules can be broken, bent, or must be adhered to, so they keep their job and work to benefit the organisation. They recognise the cultural norms of the organisation and the performance expectations, choosing when and how they participate in a way that delivers ‘out-of-the-box’ results for their company.
In the first 90 days of a new job: Listen, observe and ask questions. You’ll never have as much opportunity for this as you do in your first 90 days. Use this opportunity to learn as much as possible about the organisation, how it operates, and the people within.
Learn the game and how to play it by observing others and identifying the key players. Then, work out where and how the real decisions are made. Remember, your aim is to understand the ‘lay of the land’ for the benefit of your colleagues, the organisation and the wider community.
With the above approach and tips, you can navigate a new job like a maverick to make a good impression, win over allies and create an environment that provides a newer level of fulfilment.