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Compromise consensus and the Maverick

Compromise, consensus and the Maverick. Compromise is often recommended as a way forward in the workplace, but it often ends up being “Win – Lose”, to use Covey’s description from his 4th habit of highly effective people. What does this mean? One party gives in more than the other, and thus runs the risk of being disadvantaged in the deal.  

Consensus, where mutual agreement helps parties to find a solution which serves both, is preferable. Again, there is the “Win – Lose” danger. “Win – Win” is king, but how to achieve this without a loss of face, or ground, or influence?

For the Maverick, their innate wilful independence [1] means that either concept has potential problems. There’s the risk that the desire for independence could jeopardise a mutually-beneficial solution. The risk is that the Maverick could “cut off their nose to spite their face”, as the adage goes. 

There’s the risk, if the Maverick is overly-socialised, that they could agree to a solution and then regret it, leaving the way open for disruption or disagreement. If the Maverick is the extreme variety, then all bets are off. Even if you get as far as a superficial consensus or some pretence at a compromise, that won’t be worth the tissue it’s written on. As soon as the Extreme Maverick [2] senses they can advance their own cause, their natural independence and laser-focus on their own self-interest will take over. 

You can say goodbye to “Win – Win”.

So how do we work with Mavericks in the workplace, without everything being one big concession? Communication. It is crucial to communicate. That’s explaining, checking-in, following-up, confirming, clarifying … and listening. Listening to what the Maverick on your team is saying. Listening to what they are not saying. It is good practice to have open and honest lines of communications in your team. 

When you have a Maverick on the team, it’s vital.

How does it help? It gives the Maverick the opportunity to express their view and stake their claim to whatever territory is under discussion on the compromise. It also reassures the Maverick that their view is being considered and that they are supported to pursue their independent approach to some extent. It gives you a clear idea of the issues in play during the discussions. 

That tells you a huge amount.  

You can use this information to strengthen your position (if you are at risk of “Lose -Win”). You can use this information to learn more about your team, about your Maverick and about the wider dynamic. You can also use this information to incentivise your Maverick (and other team members), either during the discussions or subsequently.  

Seeing things differently is what we Mavericks do. So, when you have a Maverick on your team, please bear in mind that they bring an additional layer of complexity to your negotiations. “Win – win” is too simplistic for any consensus discussion involving a Maverick. You will need to really understand what a “win” would be like for the Maverick, and also for the team as a whole. 

What is the minimum “win” that the Maverick will tolerate? How far is that from the team “win”? And how far is that from your own definition? It will be worth considering other opportunities that the Maverick’s definition would unleash. That’s the beauty of having Mavericks on your team. 

The negotiations may be eventful, but they bring with them the opportunity for something amazing.


[1] Judith Germain defining Mavericks as wilfully independent people since 2005

[2] Extreme Maverick – Judith Germain. The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders PublishNation 2017

Astrid Davies
Astrid Davieshttps://astriddaviesconsulting.com/
Astrid Davies MA is an Executive Coach and change consultant who uses her 30 years of leadership experience to help her clients make positive changes which last. She is a mentor and guest lecturer at the University of Southampton, including supporting their Enactus chapter for social entrepreneurs. She also runs a series of successful leadership training networking events across the South of England, where she helps young professionals to build an ethical and effective leadership career alongside their professional development. A passionate champion of diverse and sustainable workplaces, Astrid integrates several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals into her client projects. If you would like to find out more, please go to www.astriddaviesconsulting.com.

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