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Hot topic: High-level disagreements

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How can an organisation deal with mavericks at the top of the organisation?

Boris Johnson has made headlines declaring his support for Britain leaving the EU, despite David Cameron openly supporting remaining. Having such a high-profile detractor might prove difficult for Cameron to manage. Should HR try to bring the board together or is having mavericks healthy for businesses?

Nupur Mallick, HR director, UK and Ireland for Tata Consultancy Services, says:

"Many of the most innovative and successful leaders could be categorised as mavericks in other walks of life. From Elon Musk to Richard Branson, there are dozens of examples of successful leaders that question the status quo in order to drive results.

However, it can also be difficult to manage maverick thinkers as part of a leadership team. So how do you ensure the management team works smoothly alongside these disruptors?

Firstly, accept that you need mavericks. A study by Elliroma Gardiner, an organisational psychologist at the London School of Economics, found that employees with disruptive personalities are critical to business success. She discovered that workplace mavericks are likely to take more risks, even in the face of negative feedback. Their independent thinking can therefore benefit organisations looking to innovate.

Issues with mavericks can arise when they affect the productivity of the team. Leaders with this type of personality are often confident in taking action and can be very influential and effective in getting a job done, but these attributes can turn into weaknesses if a dominant character monopolises discussions and affects the wider performance of the organisation.

Ultimately mavericks must respect their colleagues and the organisation they work for and be happy to collaborate.

It’s important to ensure that individual employees’ voices are heard, without drowning out the views of their colleagues. Mavericks should also be placed in roles that fit their particular skillset, where they will have the freedom to act productively while still remaining aligned with the organisation’s goals.

A maverick should not be treated as the enemy. If your values and goals are clearly set out and the entire management team is aligned accordingly, then the creativity, dynamism and fresh perspective that mavericks provide can be a real asset."

Check back tomorrow for academic Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic's view