When you think of a rebel, who comes to mind? Maybe James Dean cruising around looking moody on his motorcycle. Or Steve Jobs, who demanded certain things be done his way. Or US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who regularly speaks out against President Trump.
Often, we tend to think of rebels, disruptors, and innovators as bold, outspoken, loud, and even flamboyant. It can appear that they care so much about their idea or cause — and don’t care as much about what other people think of them.
Yet, even somewhat shy, quiet, unassuming people can shake things up at work and in life. People who like to be “nice,” and are anxious to please others also have the capacity to initiate meaningful change.
I’ve been noticing an atypical kind of disruptor. Someone who creates change in a different, more subtle way. This type of rebel may not even know they’re a catalyst for something new and different.
Is this you?
- You constantly see things that are missing or broken — and you wonder why others don’t notice what’s amiss
- You feel like a misfit, and sense that most people at work don’t understand you.
- You aim to please. It’s not your style to “rock the boat” or rile people up.
- Managers and colleagues try to limit you. They tell you things like “You don’t know enough” or “You’re naive,” or “You’re not senior enough to address issues like that.”
If you’re a quieter, more subtle, humble agent of change, I want to pass along some guidance designed to make things easier for you.
Get your new ideas across, powerfully
You have a natural talent for seeing what’s missing and broken, whether that’s a process that needs improvement, a marketing campaign that needs readjustment, or a customer relationship that needs more TLC.
If you want to have the kind of influence that really makes an impact, you need to do more than call out what’s wrong.
And you even need to do more than offering solutions.
To gain the attention of senior leadership, so change sticks, tie your findings to the business bottom line, so you get invited to the table of people discussing what happens next.
In other words, if you see that your customer on-boarding process is laborious and confusing, consider how that’s costing the company. Then, get a meeting with senior management. Instead of saying, “We’ve got problems with customer on boarding and I have solutions,” you want to make the business benefits super clear.
Try something like “It’s taking us 6 weeks to on-board new customers, when the industry standard is 2 weeks. It’s costing us $5,400 per customer to start generating revenue. I have some ideas for making the process more efficient and would give us savings of at least $1,000 per customer. At a conservative 50,000 new customers a year, that’s $500,000 in savings. And I’d be willing to bet customer satisfaction would go up, too. Want to hear more?”
You’d better bet your management will want to hear more. Be prepared to grab a coveted spot at leadership meetings, especially when you keep the focus on business drivers like profitability and efficiency.
You’ll upset people. Get used to it. Don’t take it personally.
When you share ideas and suggestions that involve change, you’re naturally a rebel, even if you didn’t set out to be one. Why? Because you want to do things differently.
Like it or not, a lot of people like things “as is.” They’re comfortable with the status quo. They like their familiar ways of doing things.
And as you describe what needs to be fixed or adapted, you’re essentially telegraphing want to shake up the lives of others.
They’re scared of you.
Whether you plan for it or not, you’ll upset people. That’s part of your role. Best to get accustomed to that now.
Yes, you can still be a nice person, even if people are yelling at you or giving you the silent treatment. Let them do that. They’ll either get the frustrations and fears about change out of their system. Or they’ll move on.
Just keep doing what you do. And let them do what they do. They’re anger, upset, and frustration — it’s not about you.
You’ll likely feel like a misfit. Fix that.
As a person who sees flaws and opportunities, it’s likely that even people in your own company and work group won’t understand you. Since these kinds of people are focused more on the immediate moment, and wanting things to stay stable and static, your orientation may make you seem like a “freak” to others.
It’s no fun to feel like you don’t belong.
But you do belong.
You just need to find your tribe. Your people. Others who think like you do. People who embrace a change orientation like yours.
And you’re very likely to find those people outside your organization.
More than ever, it’s important to surround yourself with a tribe (or tribes) of people who resonate with you. They have similar orientations. They’re excited about the same kinds of things as you are.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to find your tribe. Do keyword searches on LinkedIn and Google.
Say you’re interested in medical devices and AI (artificial intelligence). Simple searches can help you seek them out on LInkedIn. Search for conferences at the intersection of these two things. You’re bound to find your people, so you keep excited and motivated about change.
In this time of intense change, you’re needed
You know how fast things are changing now? How industries like travel, transportation, and manufacturing are shifting? Of course, that pace of change is only going to get faster.
So your ability to be your own brand of change agent — well, it’s crucial. Embrace your more quiet, humble way of making change. You do fit in. You do matter. You’ve got important shifts to help create. Go forth and create!
Need support for being your own brand of disruptor, innovator, or rebel? Get in touch. I’d love to have a complimentary discovery session with you.
Help me make change, too. If you liked this article, please pass it along!