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Little Find

How to manage a rebel

You have a rebel on your team. They get excellent results but also have a knack for annoying colleagues with sharp comments. They even put you firmly in your place on occasion, and sometimes with cause. So how should you handle such an, um …?

Don’t give up! Help them find their place and make the most of their potential: 

  • Understand a rebel’s motivation. A rebel has considerable energy. How can they invest this in a positive way that connects with their intrinsic motivation? Ask them! 
  • Speak to them about the impact of their behavior. They’re not looking to cause harm but probably don’t realize the effect their comments have. Help them become aware of this. 
  • Channel their energy into projects that aim to iron out problems or rationalize redundant processes. 
  • Find pertinent ways of acknowledging what they do. The rebel isn’t particularly bothered about recognition or financial incentives. They are more interested in having a positive impact on the organization. Encourage them to share their ideas and to make them more presentable, with the help of a business case, for instance.  
  • Help them become a team player. Are they tempted to play the lone wolf against the world? Show them their actions will have a greater effect if they manage to win their peers over to their side. 

Keep in mind that a rebel is simply a well-intentioned person who needs a helping hand to steer their energy and ideas in the right direction. 

To go further

Managing rebels


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Florence Meyer
Published by Florence Meyer
Executive coach, change management expert, and author. Constantly on the lookout for the latest management and leadership trends.