Managing young mavericks. I am thankful to be so wilfully independent . I do things a bit differently than my peers and this maverick mindset has led me to some exciting adventures: living abroad, working for Congress, buying a condo, and now starting a podcast. These are just a few of the big ideas that have paid off. There are many, many others that have been a bust.
I’m 26 years old and learning as I go.
Usually, my skill set or previous experience do not quite match up with my next big idea. Like most mavericks, I like new challenges. New being the key word. So, I rely pretty heavily on my ability to problem-solve, and learn as much as I can by seeking out additional resources and mentors to ask advice.
My out-of-the-box thinking is my greatest strength, but can also make it challenging to be my manager.
The work environments that have felt like the best fit, have been led by mavericks. And that makes sense, they understand my strengths and can offer ideas to curtail my weaknesses. I do tend to try too much at once and then have trouble focusing in on the one or two priorities that need to get done. They’ve helped me see this and work through strategies to overcome these challenges.
They were strong leaders in an office with a well-defined hierarchy. My role and responsibilities were clear and I was taught the right skills, right away. And most importantly, they responded to all of my many questions. I felt heard and valued even when I was just starting out (even as an unpaid intern!). They never brushed off my questions as unimportant; I was never told I did not need to know that now, or we’ll talk about it later.
They did the opposite – they matched my relentless curiosity with constant information and opportunities.
The office also encouraged an entrepreneurial mindset where everyone could speak up. My out-of-the-box thinking worked well in this office, and I accomplished tangible results within my portfolio, because I was able to bounce ideas off my mentors and learn from their experience. I learned a tremendous amount.
The opposite has been true in work environments where the priority was to toe the line. I’d still ask questions as I was developing ideas, only to have them ignored. That should have signalled to me to stop working on these ideas. I know that now, but I didn’t know that then. Inevitably, when I presented what I had been working on, my managers would be angry that I had stepped out of line. It’s safe to say I did not last long in those offices; I had a tough time adapting and left.
Managing young mavericks. I would encourage managers to embrace maverick thinking, and be strong leaders who help guide young employees as they learn. Feed into our curiosity – you’ll reap what you sow. And I would encourage young mavericks to find mentors who can help you develop your critical thinking and judgement. It comes in handy when you’re considering your next big idea.
 Mavericks have been defined as ‘Wilful Independent’ by Judith Germain in 2005