Is your firm’s maverick an Eddie or a Kevin?

The news that Andy Murray plans to reunite with his former enigmatic coach Ivan Lendl in time for Wimbledon and that the resurgent English rugby union team under their fanatical Australian coach, Eddie Jones, have toppled Australia on home turf brings into sharp focus the question of the role that mavericks play in successful sporting teams and how that role can be applied to a business.

Mavericks think creatively. They take risks. They break rules and they never accept the status quo. They are innovative, revolutionary geniuses who achieve their goals against all odds. You only have to think of the David and Goliath situation when Richard Branson took on the might of BA or of the Wingless Wonders of 1966 who under the guidance of Alf Ramsey won the World Cup.

It is obvious then that you would want to bring someone into your business that has such unique talent and who will never accept failure as an option. But what we have learned from the top ‘100 Best Companies To Work For’, however, is that successful managing partners do not just manage; they lead. So, if a maverick employee chooses to run riot, tries to contaminate a firm’s culture or starts to put themselves above everyone else in the team – then they must be removed. Think back to how bravely Andrew Strauss told Kevin Pieterson in 2014 that he had to go and how many believe that brave decision has contributed to allowing the English cricket team to thrive.

As we all know, there is a whirlwind of change in professional services. Mavericks can play a vital part in helping their firms to embrace that change by pushing back boundaries and driving the business forward. But as managing partners must have ‘one team – one culture’ at the very heart of their firm’s vision and values, they must embrace the positivity of their Eddies who will allow the team to blossom and flourish but clip the negativity of their Kevins who, if left unchallenged, could fragment team spirit so that it withers and dies.