I’m working my way through a book, The Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make, by Hans Finzel, and I’m really enjoying the challenge. So for the next ten Saturdays I want to work through these ten mistakes, knowing that they apply to CEOs, ministry leaders, parents, teachers, coaches, pastors and just about anyone in any kind of leadership role. I promise to keep my summaries short(ish), and I would love to interact with your thoughts as we go along. These mistakes are listed in order of how they occur in the book, not necessarily how I would arrange them. Overboard Leadership requires an honest self-evaluation of each of these shortcomings (sins?) of leaders. Looking for missed posts, click here: Mistake #1, Mistake #2, Mistake #3)
Mistake #4: No Room for Mavericks
Mavericks are the small segment of the population that are born with a different perspective. They don’t live inside any box, and they don’t naturally conform to the cultures in which they live and work. These people often feel like they don’t “fit in” because, truth is, they don’t!
If you have more than one child, you may know exactly what I’m speaking about! You probably have a child who just sees the world differently and no matter how hard you try to explain life to them, they just don’t seem to “get it.” The problem is, most of us, inadvertently, try to squash the mavericks from family influence -- or office expression -- as we stifle their creativity in an attempt keep things “normal.”
Generally, it’s not that mavericks try to make things hard, and generally, I don’t think most people intentionally try to block the influence a maverick can have. Rather, our homes and businesses and ministries and schools and organizations become so set in their ways, that without knowing it, they push away the very help they need. I find it ironic when an organization is formed out of a cry for change (like many church plants) but then themselves become a stagnant body that rejects change in the future!
Hanz writes, “Organizations (businesses, families, schools, ministries) have nasty habit of becoming institutionalized.” He continues, “Movements become monuments. Inspiration becomes nostalgic.” In other words, every organization experiences life cycles, much like a human moves from birth to death: birth, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, golden years, old age and death. In the human existence, there is no way to reverse the cycle, but in organizations, there is: introduce a Maverick into the group!
Instead, however, most organizations opt to stifle the mavericks and try to keep them away from influence. Finzel gives five signs that suggest an organization is afraid of mavericks and headed for demise:
- They create as many layers of management as possible for decision making.
- They keep looking over the shoulders of employees, micro-managing them.
- They make the policy manual as thick as possible.
- They send everything to committees for deliberation.
- They make new ideas and maverick leaders wait.
(From my Friend, Justin VanRheenen, found of Kaleo Media)
My name is Justin. Am I’m a Maverick. **Hi, Justin**
I think of the greatest Maverick in the Bible, Peter. I love this guy. In John 21, after Jesus appeared to Peter and several of the disciples who were out fishing, He joins them on the shore to have breakfast. Now this is after Peter had tried to rebuke Jesus, cut off a dude’s ear, and denied Jesus three times, within a week. Think about that. If you’re a manager or pastor and someone screwed up this many times in a week, you’re ready to have a meeting aren’t you? So was Jesus.
So on the shore Jesus is having this meeting with Peter. And Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” There are three greek words for love. Eros (a steamy passionate love; erotic), Phileo (a sibling kind of love), Agape (a fall-on-a-grenade-for-you type of love; self-sacrificing). The word that Jesus uses for love here is the word agape. “Peter, do you agape me?” Peter responds, “Jesus, you know that I…” **now watch this** “…phileo you?” Did you see that? Jesus asks a very specific question and Peter can’t answer it. But Jesus says “Feed my lambs.” WHAT?!
Jesus asks Peter again if he loves Him. “Peter, do you agape me?” Peter again responds. “Yes, Lord; you know that I phileo you?” Does Jesus say, “DUDE!! DO YOU NOT HEAR THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?” Nope. He says, “Tend my sheep.”
It's the next statement that makes me wish I had Jesus as a boss (don’t get all spiritual on me; you know what I mean). A third time, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, but watch this. “Peter, do you phileo me?” Did you see that? Jesus changed the word. He met Peter where he was. But I think He asked him, “Do you really phileo me? You said you do. But do you really?”
Peter is grieved that Jesus had to actually ask him this when he replied, “Jesus, you know everything; you know that I phileo you.” and Jesus says “Feed my sheep…Follow me.”
So why tell this story? Because Mavericks can identify themselves in this story. Mavericks know they don’t fit in. They know it. Just ask them. And they will make soooooo many mistakes. So many. But if you as a manger/pastor/parent punish a maverick because of their failures and never mentor or teach them through it, they will NEVER hear the words of Jesus when He comes down to their level and says, “Feed my sheep. Follow me.” They will instead feel shame, and they will fear even stepping outside of the box they are being stuffed in every day.
But let me tell you, if you can empower a Maverick within your organization, church, or family to do extraordinary things, they will turn a stagnate status quo into a thriving machine. And.And.And. hear me with this: their loyalty will go deeper than the biggest rockstar on your team. Don’t believe me? Engage that Maverick on your team.
Of course, there are mavericks who are self-centered, and more concerned about their status than the team’s -- you must be ware of them -- but there are plenty of game-changing influencers out there who just need a little opportunity to express themselves, in order to bring about significant change. Here are five ways Hanz suggests, to release the potential of a maverick:
- Give them a long tether -- they need space to soar!
- Put them in charge of something they can really own.
- Listen to their ideas, and give them time to grow.
- Let them work on their own (if they wish).
- Leave them alone, and give them time, [and limited direction], to blossom.
As a leader, if you are feeling stuck, if you are feeling like your organization is in a rut, it might be that the answer is sitting right in front of you; you just need to release a maverick in to the equation. It can be a risky move, but mavericks are often the last person that stands between long-term success of a ministry or business -- even a family! -- and the demise of a once-great organization.
We’ve all seen 60, 70 and 80-year-old businesses, churches or ministries that have long passed their prime. They’re still around, and they’re still active, but they are at the end of their life-cycle and effectiveness. A maverick leader could be the one person that restores life.
Go ahead and take the plunge, you leadership will be better on the water!
Special thanks to Justin VanRheenen, friend and founder of Kaleo Media. If you want to increase your online presence, or improve your social media content and skills, contact Justin and learn from him!