Identifying Maverickism in Employees Could Benefit Businesses

April 9, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Sir Richard Branson
Successful businessmen like Sir Richard Branson tend to be described as independent thinkers, creative problem solvers, quick decision makers, and goal-oriented individuals. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

Identifying employees with maverick tendencies and channelling their creative talents could lead to businesses being more successful, according to a recent study. 

The study of 458 employees from different organisations by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of New South Wales, Australia, suggests that for businesses to be more competitive in the global market, they need to be more resourceful and make greater use of the talents of mavericks in their workplace. 

Mavericks, like successful businessmen Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, tend to be described as independent thinkers, creative problem solvers, quick decision makers, and goal-oriented individuals.

Dr Elliroma Gardiner of LSE and professor Chris Jackson of UNSW said in a statement that “being a maverick is more than just having an idea or a hunch pay off, it is about taking real risks and achieving in a way that is unique and unexpected”.

As well as being risk takers, mavericks are open to new ideas. Richard Branson started his own airline Virgin Atlantic, which took on the might of British Airways and has become one of the most profitable airlines in the world. 

The research found that although mavericks are creative, independent thinkers they tend to be troublesome and poor team players, and therefore low in “agreeableness”.

They are usually extroverts and highly persuasive in gaining support for their ideas. 

Gardiner and Jackson concluded, “Although we are not suggesting that businesses rush to fill their organisations with ‘mavericks’, what we are suggesting is that in the current climate, where many businesses are asking their workers to do more with less, encouraging workers to be creative and giving them some leeway to take measured risks may have some potential benefits.”

The research is due to be published later this year in the British Journal of Psychology.