Well, first of all you probably don't need too many of them, otherwise chaos may ensue.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes a maverick as "an unorthodox or independent minded person" (also as an "unbranded calf or yearling", so if  you're a farmer or ranch owner, ignore the first sentence, you might need as many as you can get, even if they are seriously uncontrollable! 

Don't confuse a maverick's qualities however with obstinacy, awkwardness or just plain objectionable. These are not the behaviours I would include as desirable when recruiting. 

Unfortunately mavericks are not always welcome in an organisation. They have a habit of not following instructions and going their own way. They are not always good team players either and teamwork in any organisation is important. Mavericks can receive 'the cold shoulder' from team members and this can be de-motivating in a team. 

Some bosses can't cope with mavericks, just like the four legged ones, they can be difficult to direct, often needing more attention than other members of staff, more patience and more focus on their relationship management. Some managers are not up for this because it does take extra time. If a manager is just looking for harmony, staff that follow instructions and play by the rules then mavericks may not be for them but such managers are missing out. 

Whilst a maverick generally needs more attention from a manager, albeit different from the attention they might give other staff, the fact that they are 'independent and unorthodox' can be well worth their presence in your organisation. These are qualities that should be harnessed for the good of the organisation, not rejected. However if you're a manager where the only way is your way, then best to stop reading this article. It is not for you. 

Managing mavericks require open minded managers, minds that understand it is not their job to come up with all the new ideas, but recognise the good ones when they see them. Unfortunately not all managers practice this. 

Mavericks are often best employed in positions where their unorthodox and independent nature can be best used. Of course their interaction with other staff may require greater management but this is not insurmountable. The trick is to recognise and then ensure that all staff remain motivated whilst the maverick works amongst them. 

So what areas in your business can they be used to greater effect? Probably in positions that demand initiative, innovation, creativity, lateral thinking or 'thinking out of the box'; qualities often possessed by mavericks and which every organisation needs. Research and Development and Marketing can benefit from having mavericks but these won't be the only opportunities. It is in the nature of a maverick to be confident in their own judgement and not be afraid to follow an idea that might break the mould. Of course, like every new idea they are not always successful but some. will mean important breakthroughs. 

So if you are seeking to lead your Industry don't reject mavericks just recognise that they must be employed wisely and pay attention to their management.


  • 2015-07-21 10:57:14
  • David Willcox
  • Management