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5 Nudges and the Maverick Leader

5 Nudges: Could, Might, Can, Should, Must and the Maverick Leader. Carina had been referred to me by the HR team in a large (2,700+) organisation in my role as a development coach. She was underperforming, badly. The problem had been exacerbated because she was unwilling to engage with her manager. Things were looking decidedly difficult for her.

After an initial “Can we work together?” session, we had an opening conversation about the background, the all-important context. Carina asked if she could tell me something in strictest confidence. I told her that I couldn’t promise this, that I am bound by my Statutory Duty of Care. I added that in my general experience when people asked that question, they were more or less ready to talk about their challenge.

Carina took a deep breath and told me that some years ago, she had been in an abusive relationship, one in which her violent partner had almost killed her and that she had spoken to one person only about the event(s). She went on to state that her current manager’s tonality, non-verbal communication and body language reminded her of her former partner, and she would at once retreat to her appeasement strategy on reading the “mood signs”. This meant that she choose to do and say nothing that might provoke an attack, verbal or physical. What had on occasions, been an effective coping/avoidance strategy in an abusive relationship had re-surfaced in the context of her relationship with her manager and was now putting her job at risk.

I was able to feed this back to HR who quickly arranged counselling and looked at options within the organisation that would mean Carina could continue her employment. So, for leaders, especially Maverick ones, what might this reflection on practice mean?

  1. People sometimes underperform and there’s always a context-it could be you!
  2. People can’t always communicate their distress and there’s always a reason-it might be you!
  3. We need leaders who can step back, think and reflect before stepping forward to act-it can be you!
  4. Leaders need to model a range of behaviours that secure performance and demonstrate that they absolutely recognise the value of their teams and individuals-it should be you!
  5. Leaders (especially Socialised Maverick ones [1]) should contribute to establishing an ethically valid, value led culture that puts people and their wellbeing at the front and centre of its planning, performance and sustainability-it must be you!


[1] Socialised Maverick – Judith Germain, The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders, PublishNation 2017

John Dooner
John Doonerhttp://www.dy-3solutions.co.uk/
My work is informed by the belief that Human Dignity is the key to great outcomes and after leaving my last Local Government post (2002), I had the opportunity to work with people and teams who were looking for better alignment, a sense of purpose beyond the now and an opportunity to resolve tensions and conflicts that were holding them back. There have been some huge turning points; the opportunity to work with people as an enabler/coach has been fantastic. I’m a qualified mediator working with individuals and teams and work with groups in developing approaches to see us into a challenging and exciting future that’s also just a bit scary! I like walking, cycling, photography and using my local gym. I delight in connecting with people and believe that we all of us, hold the present in stewardship for the future. I’ve been lucky because I’ve worked with great people, I have to quote Einstein and Oasis, “Stood on the Shoulders of Giants!”

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