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Can an Organization Have Too Much ‘Rebel Talent’?

First, they create rebel organizations, where employees and leaders alike understand that

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influence is much more important than power, as determined by where you sit in the organization

or how big your title is. Rebel organizations are places where leaders focus on making others

better as they drive positive change. To maintain your credentials as a rebel leader, she

recommends: (1) “seek out the new,” both for yourself and your employees, (2) encourage

constructive dissent, (3) open conversations, don’t close them, (4) reveal yourself—and reflect,

(5) learn everything—then forget everything, (6) find freedom in constraints, (7) lead from the

trenches, and (8) foster happy accidents [through, for example, ways of bringing diverse

employees together on a daily basis].

One might conclude that an organization staffed with rebel talent and a passable strategy should

win over an organization relying heavily on rules, procedures, and coloring inside the lines.

However, other research emphasizes the importance of engagement based on trust resulting from

leaders and employees who are predictable, who do what they say they will do, and who try to be

as transparent as possible in their dealings with others. It’s important to note that these findings

complement, not necessarily contradict, those of Gino’s.

Organizations exhibiting so-called rebel qualities have been found to incur higher organizational

and agency costs as the price for agility and innovative outcomes. Take diversity, for example.

As Gino herself points out, research has found that “greater diversity produces better outcomes

exactly because it is harder to work among a mix of perspectives,” and “diversity often fails to

take hold for the simple reason that homogeneous teams can feel more effective.”

Challenges to rebel leadership

One of the challenges of employing rebel talent is that the process of developing a cadre of

rebels quite likely has to begin at the top if the philosophy is to be inculcated in an organization.

To do it from the bottom could lead to the frustration caused by managers and leaders reluctant

to change.

• Using principles to what has been discussed in class how can leadership use rebel talent

and what it can achieve for the organization?

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