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  • Rob

How Do I Find The Next Rebel Who Will Save My Business?

A slightly different article than my 'normal’ fare but there is a still a linkage with my Navy days.

Companies today are need of finding some rebels! Rebels actually enjoy working with ambiguity and never followed the rules anyway, so now they are quite comfortable as all the established rules are in question. How do you find one of these types and more importantly, how will you evaluate them and decide if they can work with you, are the critical questions?

First the link to my Navy days. Going through flight school for 2 years was a challenging experience to say the least. The Navy was trying to weed out the people that would not make good naval aviators (aka landing on ships). I remember that it cost something like 2 million dollars (1987) to train a pilot from start to finish so it is important to find the people who were not going to work out early in the process.

I can remember the myriad of tests that I went through especially in the early days. These ranged from physical, academic and stress tests that they seemed to throw at us at an alarming pace. Nothing like running for an hour in the hot sun on the beach then dropping us into a 2-hour aerodynamics class. Now, all military folks out there have similar stories about their training, so there must be something about finding the right person early on across the board.

Back to the rebels.

I have certainly been called a rebel a few times over my career and I have learned to live with that. They are often admired when the circumstance needs rebel skills but the rest of the time rebels can be well, rebellious and a pain to manage! Also, rebels never accept situations as they are. They are always asking "Why does it have to be this way?" and often enjoy pushing people out of their comfort zones. Given our current situation, a rebel is a good person to have on board to help think “What might the future look like?” and “How can we ever get there?”.

Now back to how to find one, and the Navy link. I remember during my training I was called out of work to speak with a group of people (looking back they were behavioural scientists) who wanted to ask me lots of questions about how I would react to certain situations and what my childhood was like. They wanted to build a 'fighter pilot profile' to be used to evaluate new students. As you can imagine this was going to be a difficult task as most of us were rebels but I remember a few traits that I had that seemed to match the others. They were the oldest born child, check, and Eagle Scout, check.

The good news for businesses today is that this science has moved on well beyond 1988 when I was tested. There are also many standardised tests that help to identify people with certain traits that you can use with your current team or potential hires. I have done quite a few of these tests over the years and I always come up with a 'strange' profile which the scientists seem to love. Given I know I am a bit of a rebel and an outlier, when I find someone who wants to work with me I send these results to them so they better understand what makes me tick.

If you need a rebel, and my only piece of advice is that you really prepare yourself for what that entails, think like those Navy scientists and try do the right test upfront to weed out the ones that do not fit your ambition (and corporate culture)!

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