Shifting along the Maverick Continuum™. I was working with a client recently, and as we explored the issues behind their workplace challenges on our joint project, it became clear that it was always “the others” who were at fault. “They” had not bought into the idea sufficiently. “They” had not engaged as they ought. “They” had all been told about the idea, so it was their fault if they didn’t know about it. No buy-in from the Board, no real infrastructure to deliver The Big Idea – no delivery.
It doesn’t take Einstein’s brain to work out that there is a common theme here – the client was making judgements about the people in their firm, based on a lack of engagement in an idea which, at best, had not been explained to them, let alone sold.
All the troubles led back to one person … my client.
My client has been described by peers as a loose cannon. He has loads of ideas, he shoots from the hip, becoming impatient with all those around him who don’t buy into the fragments of ideas that he shares with a select few (but rarely the same ideas with any two) – generally creating chaos under the mis-description of “creativity”. My client operates in what in Transactional Analysis terms would most definitely be “Child” – he is wilful and finds it hard to engage with an idea he did not have first.
There is even the occasional tantrum.
Lucky me as the consultant? Actually, yes. I am lucky. I am lucky because my client has finally worked out that there might, just might, be a slim chance that his behaviours might be something to do with the trail of unfinished bright shiny new projects he leaves in his wake.
Shifting along the Maverick Continuum™ …
His colleagues, in conversations with me and the Board, have also described him as a “Maverick”. While he is most definitely “wilfully independent” , he is not the Socialised Maverick  who would fare best in his role. Rather, he is an Extreme Maverick , pushing his own agenda ruthlessly, pursuing self-interest dressed-up in chaos and confusion, because he didn’t think it necessary to communicate fully about his Big Idea.
Wanting to play his own way, all the time, and playing at the expense of others.
However, this Extreme Maverick has recently had a coaching session with me, where we exchanged a few truths. No prettifying of the situation, no offering excuses, no escape from the hook he had found himself on. He had been spoken-to pretty firmly by one of his Directors, about his lack of delivery. Lots of noise, no product. This scared him, as he could hear in his Director’s tone a finality, a “last chance saloon” quality which hadn’t been there before. So, he asked me for a coaching session to explore how he could get people to see things from his point of view.
At least, that’s how it started.
By explaining to the client that there are more types of people than him, and that other people might, just might, disagree with him because of a rational argument, not their base stupidity or awkwardness, we have started to shift him along the Maverick Continuum™ .
What’s the Maverick Continuum™? Put simply, it is the process whereby an Extreme Maverick can build their social and emotional enquiry skills to a level where they can appear a Socialised Maverick to all but the closest of family and friends. They won’t change 100%, but a decent percentage shift will help them to help themselves in the workplace and beyond.
So that’s what we are now doing, my client and me. We are exploring the impact of his actions on others (and ranking those others to include the Board, which gets his attention). We are looking at how getting a project over the finishing line might actually feel and help his credibility in the firm. We are also looking at the project on which I am supporting him, to ensure that one is not heading for the tantrum buffers – not on my watch.
It feels to me that my client was a wolf dressed in the proverbial sheep’s clothing – outgoing, bubbly, chatty, engaging, witty … until things actually needed to happen, which is when things started to go wrong and the wolf behaviours started to show. I say “was”, because my client got in touch yesterday to confirm that he had completed a project with peers and that it had been a success. More importantly, by listening to others’ views, and actually being guided by them, the project ceased to be the nightmare it had become, and was quick and straightforward to deliver.
An evidential learner, my client could see with his own eyes the impact of that change, and that has motivated him to keep going with what is, for him, an Herculean effort. He understands his Extreme Maverick behaviours and preferences. He also understands that a few tweaks, tips and things to remember daily will give him most of the tools to move along that Maverick Continuum and get the job done.
Shifting along the Maverick Continuum™? We’re not the whole way along the Continuum, but the change has begun, and it suits my client – and his Board, very well.
 Wilfully independent – definition of a Maverick. Judith Germain 2005
 Socialised Maverick – Judith Germain. The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leadership. PublishNation 2017
 Extreme Maverick – Judith Germain. The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leadership. PublishNation 2017
 Maverick Continuum™ – Judith Germain 2013