A rebel is a person who opposes and challenges the political system, authority, control or tradition. Rebels are people who break rules that should be broken. They break rules that hold them and others back, and their way of breaking rules is constructive rather than destructive. It creates positive change. They are non-conformists because their urge to speak out is so much greater than the will to belong.

Be open-minded for rebellious ideas and visions in the shape of inclusive management

Rebels dare to challenge the status quo – in the workplace, which also includes the management, business practices, and ideas of colleagues. At first glance, rebels appear to be nothing but troublemakers. However, if managed correctly, they can be a valuable asset to both teams and organisations. Rebels can make things happen – they bring about change and can even transform entire organisations.

The power of choosing differently

‘What most people look for in a selection process is a new version of themselves,’ found a study by renowned Northwestern researcher Lauren Rivera. But such a clone will quickly become bored because there is little room for him or her to grow, she warns. But you already have yourself, and you don’t need a new ‘you’ at all, according to Rivera, but rather someone who can make you think in a different way and help you innovate. Leaders who go for ‘everything under control’ are also looking for a new version of themselves. These leaders give orders to their employees and reward those who carry them out most effectively. Ultimately, these kinds of leaders are bad for a company because they stifle innovation.

Francesco Gina’s bestseller: Rebel Talent

Francesca Gino is the youngest professor ever to get a full-time job at Harvard Business School. Her book, Rebel Talent, was a bestseller in 2018. Francesca Gino’s premise is that rebels – that is, people who know very well that they don’t play by the rules or have great difficulty doing so – benefit the companies that employ them. As she explains in her book, rebels discard the idea that there are limits to what they can do. And they act with a very specific strategy to achieve their goals. In short, they “break, transform and create”. Companies that encourage rebels share five characteristics: novelty, curiosity, perspective, diversity and authenticity. To take full advantage of the talents rebels possess, Gino says executives must follow three principles:

1. Encourage constructive dissent and open conversations 
Don’t limit the creativity of your employees. Why else would you hire talented people? Leaders sometimes do this openly, sometimes more subtly or unconsciously. In extreme cases, they fire or suspend people who disagree with their decisions.
2. Go back to basic 
How can you encourage rebels to develop new ideas? First, you can encourage your teams to get to know their customers better. Ask them what the biggest consumer problems are, what technologies they can use to solve them and how successful the solutions were. Then encourage them to come up with new ideas. Ask the right questions when they present their solutions. Open the discussion to the whole company to look for the best solutions together.
3. Design a workspace that enables collaboration 
By working together, your employees will come up with better solutions than if everyone stays in their own corner. A leader can encourage this collaboration between teams. But some of the best teamwork comes from people meeting and discussing solutions through random interactions in the workplace.

Pulling inclusive policies wider

Rebels in the workplace? Most companies are not immediately keen on it. ‘Wrongly so,’ argues Simone van Neerven, the Dutchwoman who made a career in the corporate world for years – at airline companies KLM and Vueling, among others. ‘Companies that want to innovate have much more to gain from critical or troublesome employees than from followers who never dare to raise their heads above the ground’. In early 2022, she released the booklet ‘Oh no! We have a rebel in our team’.

Companies today talk about diversity and inclusion but often forget that rebels are part of it. Just as you have to teach employees to work with colleagues who, for example, have a completely different cultural background, you also have to teach them to work with rebels. Even when those rebels are not always so easy to work with, or when they think very differently and ask a lot of difficult questions.


Managing Rebels: https://www.mindtools.com/arwbjr1/managing-rebels

Dit zijn de 11 grootste blunders die mensen in selectie maken: https://www.werf-en.nl/2018/07/page/4/

Embaucher des rebelles : ces profils qui séduisent aussi les entreprises: https://www.antenor.fr/notre-actualite/embaucher-des-rebelles-ces-profils-qui-seduisent-aussi-les-entreprises/

Simone van Neerven: “Bedrijven zouden rebellen op de werkvloer moeten koesteren”: https://www.bloovi.be/artikels/insights/2022/simone-van-neerven-bedrijven-zouden-rebellen-op-de-werkvloer-moeten-koesteren

Pourquoi vous devriez embaucher plus de rebelles dans votre entreprise: https://www.maddyness.com/2019/12/25/rh-embaucher-rebelles/

Simone van Neerven – Oh jee, een rebel in ons team!  Maar is dat eigenlijk wel zo’n ramp? https://dekring.org/event/simone-van-neerven/

Ga naar de inhoud