Engaging Rebels

In her book Rebel Talent Francesca Gino gives the much needed solutions to deal with rebels at work 

Published 6 years ago on Oct 10, 2018 2 minutes Read

In this book, I’ve introduced you to the talents that we see, again and again, in rebels: novelty, curiosity, perspective, diversity, and authenticity. What is fascinating, though, is what binds all these “talents” together: They are all paths to engagement. The talent for novelty allows us to fight the boredom that comes with routines and traditions. The talent for curiosity allows us to combat the tendency to stick with the status quo. The talent for perspective allows us to rebel against our narrow focus when we approach problems or decisions, which usually includes only one view—our own. The talent for diversity allows us to defy the stereotypes that are so ingrained in human nature. The talent for authenticity allows us to be honest about our preferences, emotions, and beliefs.

At their core, rebels are engaged. They have abundant energy and mental resilience, they invest in their work and in their personal relationships, and they persist even when the road gets tough. They feel inspired by and passionate about what they do and who they know—and they inspire those around them. Thanks to their engagement, rebels are successful. And yet, as individuals and members of organizations, we struggle to understand how to boost engagement. Doug Conant arrived at a failing soup company and successfully turned it around by walking the floors, repainting the walls, having honest conversations with his staff, and saying thank you again and again. Yet this is not the only way of achieving engagement and reaping its many benefits.

Most of us fear conflict, and understandably so. Conflict stirs up negative emotions and makes us feel vulnerable. But when expressed constructively, conflict allows us to explore new possibilities, arrive at surprising solutions, and gain important insights into ourselves and others. Without conflict, there would be no Pixar movies. How could there be a Finding Nemo without Nemo getting lost? Up would lose its power if seventy-eight-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, the main character, hadn’t lost his wife and grown bitter. Insights and innovations seldom arise when we’re feeling satisfied “with the status quo. Rather, they come from the energy that’s created when we crave change. In storytelling and organizations, as well as in our personal lives, conflict leads to engagement. Different perspectives work to heighten our attention.

Rebels embrace tension and conflict. “Ideas only become great,” Catmull told me, “when they are challenged and tested.” The right amount of conflict makes for a good story and a more rewarding life.

This is an extract from Francesca Gino's Rebel Talent published by HarperCollins