In our schools and workplaces, groupthink is rewarded. Those who question decisions and advocate for different ways are often ignored, ostracized, or fired. Yet without rebels, our systems, companies, schools, churches, government agencies, and healthcare organizations become rigid and sometimes even dangerous, according to Lois Kelly and Carmen Medina in their book Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within.
So, what makes the difference between a bad rebel and a good rebel? Bad rebels complain, are self-focused, exude anger and pessimism, alienate others, vocalise problems and point fingers. Good rebels are creative and mission-focused optimists, who generate energy, ask questions, see possibilities and pinpoint causes. The problem is that management often finds it hard to tell the difference between good and bad rebels, so good rebels have to tread carefully; hence the need for this book.
The book goes on to explain how a good rebel can gain credibility at work by listening closely to pick up important signals, how to navigate the organizational landscape by understanding work politics and types of bureaucratic behaviour, how to communicate your ideas in a convincing manner, how to manage conflict, and how to deal with fear, uncertainty and doubt. There is even a chapter for your boss on how to get the most out of good rebels.
In my opinion this is a very helpful book. Employees who are able to think creatively are much more valuable to their organisations than employees who just follow orders, but they tend to have their ideas squashed because of the inbuilt assumption that all good ideas will come from the people at the top who get paid the big money. Hopefully this book will help many good rebels to get their ideas heard and adopted.