“Why after the dust settles, does someone have to come by and blow at it, stirring it up into the air again?” ― Anthony Liccione
Trouble happens all the time, everywhere. If we had no troublemakers, we probably wouldn’t need leaders. Troublemakers are enemies, competitors for certain. The troublemakers I want to talk about are the ones who are in your employ, on your team. They specialize in “friendly fire” and their own view of the team’s goals or at least what they should be. A leader has a choice to co-opt them and bring them into the fold or to simple get rid of them. Either choice, make no mistake, will take time. How do you work with them you might ask? First of all, make certain you understand the talents, skills and assets they bring to the team. Even though they might well be “human artichokes” prickly and time consuming to handle, they just may be sweet inside.
As a leader one must discover a way to uncover a strategy to bring out the good in each of those who are considered troublemakers. It is important to note that just like other employees every troublemaker is different and has to be handled in their own way. Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in managing a “positive troublemaker” is to referee the relationships that evolve between them and their colleagues. For example, J. Edgar Hoover, no matter what one thought of him, was a force to be reckoned with. Lyndon Johnson once remarked when asked how he best dealt with Hoover replied – “I would rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.” Johnson like many effective leaders, knew the strengths of his troublemaker, in this case Hoover. He kept him inside the tent rather than having him unhappily working on the outside.
Sometimes a troublemaker can be put to good use, sometimes he can be kept on, still useful as long as possible and prevented, as Johnson did with Hoover, from doing greater trouble. Open troublemakers can be dealt with openly, conflicted, secretive ones often have to be met and pushed out into the open to expose their secrets. There is always a lot to put up with, but never doubt the gains will far exceed the effort expended. The following quote from Apple is our call to action. We must step up to the plate with all troublemakers and enjoy their gifts and ideas or suffer their slings, barbs and negativity.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ― Apple Inc.