Meeting “Mavericks” so THEY say. In my work, I meet a lot of different people. When they find out I coach and lead in leadership, many feel the need to tell me about their Unique Selling Point as if I am interviewing them for a job. It’s weird, to be honest. I smile politely, say something anodyne and move on tactfully fast.
The other day, however, I met someone I liked and knew vaguely. They happily described themselves as a Maverick.
This triggered an interesting response, and I thought I would share it in case my reflections resonate with you. I found my response interesting, because, for a fleeting moment, I found myself indignant that this person described themselves as a Maverick.
AND they didn’t see me as a Maverick at all.
I wasn’t sure whether to be offended that they didn’t perceive my Maverick  nature (what do I have to do to “be more Maverick” – dress like a harlequin or turn cartwheels (long since not an option for this arthritic 50 something) or start shouting randomly?! I was indignant, because I did not share this person’s self-diagnosis. I found them perfectly personable, but a product of their culture, age and upbringing just like the rest of us. There really wasn’t much of a difference, a purposeful and wilful independence of thought or deed that drew me in and made me want to hear more.
In truth, I think I was most indignant that they simply had not got the point of being a Maverick at all. Maverickness is a state of mind, an attitude, a way of seeing the world and exploring all its possibilities. It makes us restless, pursuing new opportunities and seeking ways to have a positive impact. What it doesn’t do is make us a happy show-off, enjoying being the centre of attention purely because we delight in saying or doing something outlandish.
You’re probably reading this and thinking I am getting a bit obsessive about the semantics. Fair. I am.
The point is that the assumptions involved in this are unhelpful, reputationally and operationally. Reputationally, because mis-description as a Maverick can lead those who don’t understand its definition as Judith Germain and the Maverick Paradox sees it.
As this is the world’s leading thought leadership centre for Maverick leadership, I would say that’s a problem.
You might, however, see it as them rejecting a new norm and putting their own spin on a definition in a post-modern ironic way. That might be right. However, there is the operational risk involved in this definition.
Allowing people you meet to expect something outlandish because you self-define as a Maverick not only undermines your own credibility, but it damages the wider understanding of the powerful role that Maverick Leadership has to play in the modern workplace. What’s that you say? I need to get over myself?
Fair. I do.
Luckily Maverick Leadership is a broad church. It focuses on celebrating the Maverick ability to see round corners, sense the unexpected or the unsaid … basically, to see the world differently. And to definitely see it as a world of opportunities.
Maverick leaders are optimists, pursuing and achieving incredible results because we worked at a deeper level of understanding with our or clients’ teams. The metaphoric glass isn’t half full. It isn’t half empty. It is half-full AND refillable.
And anyone looking at life with that can do attitude can call themselves whatever they like in my book, once I’ve had a word with myself. Let’s make the most of every opportunity and our collective Maverick potential. The world needs us right now.
 Maverick – defined since 2005, by Judith Germain as ‘a wilfully independent person’