Break..Transform…Create. These three words define the role rebels have in change.
Rebels challenge accepted beliefs. They drive innovation and change. They ask questions no one has thought to ask before. And they are not afraid to break tradition and do what others say is not possible.
Organisations do everything they can to avoid sudden or drastic changes. This is fine when sales are strong and when consistency is important for success.
But when sales decline or buying habits change, these organisations often find themselves falling behind the competitor as Sears did when Amazon offered more choice at a lower price.
Polaroid and Kodak died because they underestimated the popularity and simplicity of digital photography and the railroads never found a way to compete with the speed and convenience of the airplane and truck.
Amazon and other startups have thrived because they looked at the world differently and did not have to break an existing tradition. A handful of firms such as IBM have, in the past, been able to break traditional and thrive, but only because they either brought in an external “rebel” or because they had a corporate policy of embracing rebels.
Francesca Gino of Harvard, in her book Rebel Talent, says that rebel leaders or rebel followers – those who break rules and try unconventional approaches – are the ones who create new products and inspire innovation.
Why do we need rebels?
Elon Musk is just one example of a rebel who has changed how we think. Although he is regarded as a brilliant but somewhat crazy and overextended businessman, and a bit of a showman, he has almost alone made the electric car popular and exciting.
He is challenging ideas about transportation and has developed reusable rockets – something NASA was not able to do.
The list of other rebels is long and includes Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and hundreds of other less well-known rebels who changed things.
What can Recruiters do?
As recruiters, we need to help our organisations see the value of rebels and have enough flexibility in our hiring criteria to hire them even though they will not meet many of our usual requirements.
Ask yourself if you would have hired Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, both college dropouts with nothing very distinguishing about them.
Even though biographers have jazzed up their backgrounds, both were from rather nondescript families and were very much like others in their schools. They probably would have looked liked failures to most recruiters and hiring managers.
The best rebels may be the quiet ones who just see the world differently and have taken a different path. By making credentials, experience, and conventional actions a requirement for employment, means few will ever get hired. It is time for recruiters to think differently.
By influencing hiring managers to hire people without the normal credentials, but who have the motivation and basic skills to succeed, not only provides service to the candidate but also increases the diversity of the company.
Of course, some of the rebels will fail, but many of the fully credentialed will also fail. We need to strive for balance and encourage hiring both types of people.
Finding rebels is not hard, influencing hiring managers and hiring them is very hard. But a journey well taken.
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