What are the 6 traits of a maverick? Their attributes? It’s a question that has been asked by many. The concept of ‘the maverick’ is more complicated that most people realise. For example, there seems to be a prevailing view that mavericks are one or two dimensional creatures.
They are often portrayed (without nuance) as:
- risk takers
Either a charming, ‘cheeky chappy’ that takes risks and saves the day or a cold manipulating man that wins at all costs.
Whilst there are some truth to both of these personas, the Maverick, is a rich complex character. Much richer than the one or two dimensional character we usually get to meet. If this interests you and you want to browse some information on Mavericks – take a look at our sister site: maverickparadox.com
Over the forthcoming months I will write about the 6 traits of a maverick? Their attributes? This month I am looking at the first. Wilful Intention.
Here’s an excerpt from The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders …
What are the key maverick attributes?
I’m often asked what is it that makes mavericks different from other individuals. The answer is surprisingly complex, covering personality, mindset, and level of maverickism to name a few. However, as a default, I have found that mavericks always use the acronym WHINES to achieve their best results.
It becomes easier to understand maverick attributes when utilising the acronym WHINES:
W is for wilful intention
One of the things that angers and frustrates others about mavericks is that mavericks appear to do whatever they want, whenever they feel like, with hardly any consequences or thoughts about the consequences that the maverick’s actions have on others. Mavericks appear to have a total disregard for the status quo preferring to do the one thing that is guaranteed to upset the apple cart the most.
These assumptions that mavericks just like to cause problems is not strictly true. Once the maverick has examined the current status quo, they often discover that the existing status quo has arisen through laziness (a full review of the options was never undertaken), or without any intellectual rigour to ascertain whether the current status quo is still fit for purpose.
People tend to prefer to make small incremental changes rather than transformational ones, which is frustrating for both the maverick and the non-maverick. Mavericks often make good consultants, because they can steer their way through office politics, without hampering their thinking. They will seek the best solution not the one that will upset people the least or requires little upheaval or time to make the change.
By having wilful intention as a key maverick attribute, you can be assured that the maverick will be focused on solving and implementing the correct solution to the problem, in the most efficient way. To understand the term wilful intention as it relates to the maverick context, we will need to first look at the dictionary definition of the individual words wilful and intention. Wilful suggests a stubborn persistence in doing what one wishes, especially in opposition to those wishes or commands that ought to be respected or obeyed (dictionary.com) Intention is something that you mean to do. Therefore, someone who is determined to do something regardless of what other people think or wish has a wilful intention.
Coupled with the execution and outcome driven maverick attribute, the maverick’s wilful intention attribute, ensures that he will complete the task that he sets out to achieve. To get an insight into how this might look like, consider Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the Terminator in the 1984 and 1991 Terminator films. In those two films the Terminator was relentless in his intention to complete his task, refusing to stop until it led to his ultimate destruction and/or salvation. This is analogous with how mavericks with wilful intention approaches a task. The maverick will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. The consequence of this relentless pursuit of their wilful intention could be successful completion, or loss of reputation or perhaps over time, the maverick’s job, or key client. The outcome will depend on whether the maverick is Socialised or Extreme.
When considering whether to proceed with their wilful intention, mavericks wouldn’t consider not doing something just because someone might not like the method or thing that they are proposing to do. The fact that they might upset someone would not be sufficient justification to cease working on their proposal. Even if that person has, on paper, authority over them.
Mavericks believe that no one has authority over them, they alone are in control of their own destiny. Mavericks will, however, comply with others wishes when those wishes make sense or they feel compelled to do so. There is usually a specific reason for this feeling of compulsion and a sense of propriety isn’t it!
How mavericks think
Mavericks remain surprised at the haphazard way others appear to conduct themselves. The way that many people appear to start an endeavour without thinking through how it would work or what steps are required for its success seems strange. The idea of a constraint because of someone’s feelings is literally thought of as madness or stupidity by the maverick.
Whether it is in the business or personal domain, mavericks prefer to prepare for their activities, to ensure that they achieve the level of success that they will be satisfied with. Mavericks do not like surprises (especially ones where they could end up looking stupid) so they prefer to prepare for all possibilities. This is different from obsessively detailing everything that needs to happen or could go wrong (although some people will do this), it is more akin to considering all outcomes or consequences that might occur. Even more importantly, how the maverick might deal with or respond to the consequences if they do indeed occur.
A maverick always knows what and why they are doing something; keeping the level of unintended consequences to a minimum.
Another outcome of having a wilful intention is that the maverick will achieve their goal regardless of whether they must break rules to do so. This can have both positive or negative consequences; depending on whether the maverick is Socialised or Extreme.
In the workplace, this preference to work around the rules can cause a lot of consternation especially if the organisation is one that loves bureaucracy. It is not unusual for a maverick to decide, for example, to leave their desk on a call centre to walk to another department to resolve a customer complaint personally. This is against the rules as the call centre consultant needs to be glued to their desk to answer incoming calls. The maverick sees a discrepancy between the stated goals of the organisation (putting the customer first) and the experience of the customer (who has spoken to three different people and still hasn’t had her complaint resolved).
Whilst the customer is happy that their complaint has finally been resolved and the maverick has a sense of achievement, the manager remains unhappy with the maverick’s behaviour. From the manager’s perspective, he has an employee who refuses to sit at their desk and answer the phone. This affects his call figures and perhaps his end of year bonus. The manager probably views this as the beginning of his loss of control, fearing that others will follow the maverick and leave their desks seemingly on a whim.
For more information on the key attributes or traits of a maverick then take a look at my book; The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders.