If we’ve learned anything during the last couple of years, it’s that people are frustrated with “establishment” leaders. We worry that such leaders aren’t capable of acting independent of their party or organization, even when acting independently would be doing the right thing.
The challenge is that leadership is a function of experience. Wisdom doesn’t come overnight, and it takes a certain longevity. The question becomes, how can a leader who has been with an organization for a long time become respected by the establishment, but still be independent from it?
The trick is for a leader to be a Loyal Rebel. Let me explain.
The best boss I ever had was a man named Hines Brannan. Hines was a managing partner at Accenture, a $30 billion dollar management and technology consulting company where I worked.
What made Hines such a great boss was that he was loyal to the company, but also his own man. For example, when Hines became the managing director of Accenture’s Charlotte office, he succeeded the person who would go on to become CEO. That partner had instituted a Saturday morning partners’ meeting, because partners travel all the time and it was the only time he could get them all in the office at the same time. But people hated the Saturday partner meeting. It meant that not only were they on the road all week, but then a solid half-of-a-weekend-day was spent dedicating even more time to the company.
When Hines showed up to his first Saturday morning meeting, in his first official act as the managing partner he informed everyone that there would be no more Saturday morning meetings, and he wanted everyone to enjoy the extra time with their families. Now, how do you think the partners responded? They literally stood up and clapped.
Hines was and is an independent person. He wasn’t going to adopt the policies of his predecessor wholesale. I guess that makes him rebellious. But Hines was also respected by the establishment. The truth is, by stopping an insane practice Hines was actually being loyal to the company. He knew that cancelling the meeting was in the best interest of the well-being of the partners, and that they’d be more effective and happier because of it.
If you want to be a kickass leader, you’ve got to be a Loyal Rebel—loyal to the organization, and able to act with independence when doing so is in everyone’s best interest.
To learn more about what it takes to be a Loyal Rebel, purchase my new book, A Leadership Kick in the Ass, at http://amzn.to/2iQbsMP.