These days, we all could use some help in guiding our teams through the storm.
Don’t force your “Rudolphs”—the 2% to 10% of employees who could be your innovators—to hide their bright lights.
Here’s how to recognize Rudolphs:
• They’re often dismissed as misfits, square pegs, radicals, loose cannons or zealots. Like Rudolph and his pal Hermey (an elf who wants to be a dentist), they may be driven out of their “normal” workplace onto the Island of Misfit Toys.
• They can’t help working on projects they’re passionate about. Yukon Cornelius, another misfit who meets up with Rudolph and Hermey near Christmastown, is a luckless prospector obsessed with finding silver and gold.
• They’re not entrepreneurs but true innovators and collaborators without the skills to raise capital, hire workers or run an operation. They will be happy to work for you if you recognize their talents.
• They need protection from supervisors and peers because they’re commonly viewed as threats. Who doesn’t remember Comet, the coach who banned Rudolph from reindeer games, or the foreman who punished Hermey because he didn’t like to make toys?
• They need permission to take risks and pursue unconventional ideas. Santa finally has to intervene and install Rudolph as a flying headlight. And beyond that role, Rudolph directs Santa and his team to go rescue the misfit toys.
Somewhere below the North Pole, another aviation company called Boeing paid employees between $50 and $250, plus up to 2% of the first year’s net savings, to come forward with cost-saving ideas for the C-17 cargo plane. Over the past decade, Boeing’s Rudolphs have generated more than $90 million in savings.
— Adapted from The Rudolph Factor, Cyndi Laurin and Craig Morningstar, Wiley & Sons.
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