The Government needs more weirdos and misfits said Dominic Cummings on his blog on 2nd January 2020. This statement is still causing quite a stir, as it’s an unexpected and unusual comment to be made by someone close to the UK Government.
At the moment many pundits are unsure as to whether this statement is meant to be taken as a genuine request or a ‘safe’ punt to gauge the appetite for change.
Time will tell.
Today I was interviewed on BBC 3 Counties Radio by Roberto Perrone to discuss whether organisations needed more mavericks within their organisations. You can listen here. I’m on at 2.08. (The stream will only be active for 29 days, so I have added the transcript at the end of this article).
The Government needs more weirdos and misfits. Perhaps. Organisations certainly need more maverick behaviour and leadership. The Millennials and Generation Z demand it from their managers and those that led them. Organisations need agile minds and cognitive diversity to stay competitive.
It should be a marriage made in heaven, but somehow it’s not.
This is probably due to the fact that the managers and leaders do not know how to become maverick leaders and the employees do not know how to nurture their maverick nature or develop appropriate maverick behaviour. Employees are desperate for this and managers are frightened for it.
This is a situation that is no longer acceptable. Organisations need principled, empathetic leaders, who are concerned with the ethical execution of the company’s goals and the embodiment of the company’s values. With true agile thinking and objectivity, companies can see an uplift in employee and customer satisfaction and bottom line results.
Now, who wouldn’t want that?
BBC 3 Counties Radio interview by Roberto Perrone (transcript)
Let me get back to the Dominic Cummings story. The PM’s senior advisor has called for changes to how government works, saying there are profound problems with how decisions are made. In a blog post Dominic Cummings said the Civil Service lacked people with deep expertise in specific fields.
He said he wanted weirdos and misfits with odd skills to work in government, but a Civil Servants union said currently staff were recruited on merit and because of what you can do, not what you believe.
We’ve talked to, Judith Germain who is a consultant who refers to herself as the Mindful Maverick and Judith has written a book called The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders.
Judith, very good afternoon to you.
Thank you, hello.
Happy New Year. What exactly is a Mindful Maverick?
(Giggles). Well I’ve been defining Mavericks since 2005 as wilfully independent people, and Mindful Maverick really talks about someone who’s very objective. They are aware of what’s going on and they’re quite holistic in their thinking.
So what sort of people does Dominic Cummings want to recruit to Westminster, do you think? He’s calling for, this is the strange thing, weirdos and misfits. I’m not quite sure how he managed to sneak that past Health and Safety and HR, but he has.
(Giggles) Yes, that’s an interesting choice. Erm, I’m not sure whether weirdos really fit, unless he’s thinking about, those are different and think differently, which mavericks tend to do that and often are seen as misfits because they’re not Conformists. I mean, personally I see that there’s two types of Mavericks. One’s a Socialised Maverick, who works for the greater good, and then there’s an Extreme Maverick who tends to work for themselves.
I’m sure there are other categories. What do you think he’s
trying to achieve here Judith? If you look at the Civil Service, they do a
fantastic job and they have done for centuries. But the world has changed, you
look at the world of technology in particular. Certainly, Silicon Valley for
example, and people who work in tech industry in the UK. The kind of people
that lead those companies, they don’t conform to the standard rule, they are in
effect Mavericks, they are very unique characters.
Yes, I agree. So I would say that those individuals have fixed attributes. They have a wilful intention. They know what they want, they have an honest belief that the thing that they’re following is correct, they’re influential, knowledgeable in their field. They’re very execution and output driven and success driven, so therefore, they will they will be very determined, and they will go for that, and they’re not dissuaded by other people’s opinions, and that’s what makes a difference.
Right, on that basis then does every organisation, whether it’s a business, a charity or sports, does everyone, does every organisation need a maverick, just to stir things up?
(Giggles) Well I’m one who is a proponent of more Maverick leadership, and I’m really seeing a lot of organisations, asking for that, because there’s value in that sort of strategic, creative, empathetic leadership.
I think what’s needed now and what is being really demanded by
the younger population for Generations Z and Millennials, is organisations that
are principled, they care about what’s going on and they won’t want a
bureaucracy that doesn’t work. So I think we will see much more Maverick
behaviour as this decade unfolds.
But does, does the mainstream, body the UK, then want to accept that? That’s really the problem. Most organisations are very set in their ways they, they want to do things in a particular fashion, and someone that comes along and says and speaks out of turn and tries to change the norm, they may not get the kind of reception they’d like.
That’s true. A lot of mavericks are lost in organisations, and
they leave, because they can’t get what they want. But I think the difference
now is that these, these newer population are demanding a changed atmosphere.
That’s what the real difference is that they’re saying, we’re not going to work
in an environment that you won’t allow us to choose our working hours, we won’t allow us to do things that value us.
And I think that’s the big change and the big shake up.
And to be successful, you’ve written a book, but to be
successful Judith, do you have to be a little bit of a maverick, a bit of a
weirdo, a misfit, just to do things differently?
Yes I think, not everyone will have the personality of mavericks, but people can behave in that sort of way. And I think, if you think about where we are right now, Millennials are 50% of the working population, Generation Z is closely coming up. And I think, for them to stand out and to show what they are made of, they need to act in a maverick behaviour, and there’s lots of benefits for that for the organisation as well.
Hang on, hang on. Can you
act it or do you have to have it as a feeling in the gut? Because that’s the
thing, I think you can’t manufacture that, can you?
I think that there are people that you can teach Maverick behaviour, but those people won’t necessarily have the personality of a maverick all the way through. Does that make sense?
So, you’ve got those that have the personality of a maverick and they’re mavericks everywhere. So, by my definition in terms of Wilful Independence, and there are those that will only do that in a set place, like the workplace.
Fantastic. So, this could be the year of the maverick then, the weirdo
and the misfit, which if that’s true, I might stand a chance of improving my
(Giggles) I am going for the year, funnily enough. I am, launching a magazine in a couple of weeks, written by Mavericks because I see there’s a real need for people to understand about wilful independence, how it can be a benefit.
Judith, thanks for joining us. I wish you well. Judith Germain
is a consultant who refers to herself as the Mindful Maverick