Randomness and the Maverick

Randomness and the Maverick

Randomness and the Maverick. Recently, an invitation to a talk on Randomness arrived in my inbox.

After the year or so we have all had, this got me thinking … are we looking at “random” in the same way as we look at “normal”? Are we using one to define the other? If we can’t define “normal” just yet (and let’s face it, the “old normal” was a pretty dysfunctional, depleting and divisive sort of state), what would “random” look like?

And then, inevitably, this got me thinking about Maverickness. Wilful independence [1] doesn’t guarantee random. One could be a Maverick in one’s purposeful rejection of a VUCA* situation, to pursue security and steady-state. Not what comes to mind with the word “maverick”, but then that’s the point I seek to make.

Socialised, Extreme or even Misanthropic Mavericks like me could be assumed to be random because “maverick” is often used as a term to imply lack of control or predictability. I beg to differ; this is an unhelpful and inaccurate stereotype.

A Maverick Leader will pursue an independent line of thought and action. That independence does not, however, guarantee thoughts and actions that are unpredictable or even random. It is this very independence which makes it possible for Mavericks to bring much-needed clarity and boundaries to your organisation. A maverick may choose to introduce rules which take a team into new uncharted waters, but in doing so they have the reassurance that their lead has a clear idea of their destination and purpose. A maverick may choose to keep a steady hand on the tiller, when all about them are seeking to pursue the “new and shiny” fads that may not be as profitable as first imagined. As mavericks, we may choose to be independent of the mainstream, particularly if that mainstream is showing itself to be VUCA.

How is that “maverick”? Simple.  

It’s because of our wilful independence that we have the courage of our convictions to follow an independent path that we know … we know deep down … is the right path to follow. And that path may be a simple, steady path, devoid of hurdles, sideshows and other glitz.

It is perfectly possible for a Maverick leader TO embody randomness, of course. The more Extreme Maverick one’s behaviours, the less control there is. That can often lead to randomness and, in many cases, a negative uncontrolled randomness that has the potential to harm.

Extreme Mavericks are not, however, the norm. The vast majority of us Mavericks are Socialised, able to work with anyone but bringing some of our Maverick “secret sauce” to the workplace. This preparedness to innovate, but also to stand our ground when we believe-so-firmly-we-know that our course of action is the wisest, makes Mavericks crucial team members as well as leaders.

So when you hear someone describe themselves as a Maverick, please take care to understand that is them asserting their right to independent thought.  And when you describe someone as a Maverick, please don’t fall into the trap of muddying that definition, making it easy for people to infer you mean that person is “random” in their actions.  Be clear you support and value your Mavericks’ contributions.  Their innovation or their dogged pursuit of the safest path may offer you surprises in equal amounts.  Just don’t call us random!


*volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous situation – a military term

[1] Judith Germain has been describing Mavericks as wilfully independent since 2005