How Rebellious Leadership Leads to Success

in Management by Emily Snell

How Rebellious Leadership Leads to Success

How Rebellious Leadership Leads to Success

We typically think of leaders as smart, gregarious, inspiring, creative or confident, but how often have you heard a leader described as a maverick, insurgent, radical or agitator? Steve Jobs was one example of a rebellious leader.

His challenging nature has been well-documented, and it actually helped him build one of the world’s most profitable companies.

Rebellious leaders embrace descriptors like disobedient, insubordinate or defiant. They are distinctive because they go against the grain, deliberately upsetting accepted ways of thinking and doing in order to create something that’s worth their time, energy and whatever they’re risking.

Rebellious Behaviors are the New Normal

Today’s leaders (and those who aspire to be leaders) typically invest in training programs, books and seminars outlining safe, agreed-upon steps on building leadership skills. Even in training, however, things are changing to encourage leaders to try new things and continue to grow.

While most people don’t possess the will or even the brain wiring required to go against the crowd, rebellious leaders are just the opposite. Rebellious leaders can move past fear and the need to fit in to let their imaginations lead to innovative practices and ideas.

And while traditional leaders establish their dominance by making rules, rebellious leaders do it by breaking them, an idea long considered taboo in the business world.

Famous Rebellious Leaders

Throughout history, rebellious leaders have made lasting change. From business innovators like Steve Jobs to social activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., rebels can create long-lasting visions. They challenge the accepted thinking, persist through hardship and eventually produce change.

Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world by not following the rules. He showed that disobedience could be peaceful and that speaking your mind could be an inspiration to others. His dream was the catalyst for positive change that continues decades later.

Steve Jobs’ fearlessness and rule-breaking nature was evident from the very start. His revolutionary approach to business began when he was just 21, when he and Steve Wozniak started Apple in the Jobs’ family garage.

Jobs’ approach and inspiration was encompassed in a 1997 ad from the Apple “Think Different” campaign:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. 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.”

Rebellious Qualities Serve Today’s Leaders

Business today needs creative and independent thinkers. It needs innovative, brilliant ideas, and persistent, goal-focused people who can execute them. And it needs rebellious leaders who are not afraid to reverse direction, reject traditional thinking and stand for something unpopular – just as Dr. King, and Steve Jobs did so well.

It’s time to support purposeful rebellion, overcome fear and pursue actions that may be just a little scary.

What do you think about embracing your inner misfit, rebel or troublemaker, in order to produce real change and innovation?

About the Author

Emily Snell

Emily is a contributing marketing author at where she regularly consults on content strategy and overall topic focus. Emily has spent the last 12 years helping hyper growth startups and well-known brands create content that positions products and services as the solution to a customer's problem.

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