Would you hire ‘disruptive talent’ like Sir Richard Branson?

Sir Richard Branson has admitted he would be a difficult employee for any boss to manage as he offered his own advice on how to handle a disruptive individual. 

The entrepreneur told BBC World Business that his line manager would have to “accept that I might not do things exactly as he’d like me to do them.”

He said he would tell them: “If you don’t deal with me well, I’m going to go off and set up my own business and I’ll end up competing with you.”

Branson has created his own success, ever since he launched Virgin Records in 1973. Today Virgin Group holds more than 200 companies in more than 30 countries. He urges more businesses to hire more independently minded and stubborn people like himself. 

“I think anyone who sets up a business is to an extent a disruptive individual, because starting a business is simply someone thinking ‘I can do it better than anybody else, and I know how to do it’. For that idea to succeed you have to be doing it in a disruptive way, otherwise you’re just doing the same as everyone else and you are going to fail.

“When I came up with the idea of starting my airline and space company, people gave me every reason why I shouldn’t do it. In the end you have to be a leader, you have to give it a go,” said Branson.

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The new buzzword ‘disruptive talent’ has been coined by Organisation Effectiveness Cambridge (OE Cam), a boutique firm of business psychologists who help maximise the effectiveness of individuals, teams and organisations. 

It is used to describe innovators who see the world differently, finding new ways of doing things while rejecting the ‘tried and true’ solutions.

Martyn Sakol, managing partner of OE Cam, said that a person with disruptive talent has a variety of positive attributes that would outweigh the fact they may often be difficult to work with.

“I would define disruptive talent as individuals who think and act differently, innovate, challenge conventional wisdom, spot trends, see commercial opportunities, and tenaciously find ways to achieve success,” he said.

However, he emphasised that the person needed to be properly supported and for things to run smoothly.

Sakol argues that companies can leverage such talent to give their business an edge and stay ahead in a fast-paced changing environment.

Facebook, Uber and the iPad are examples of products and services that quickly came to be considered the latest ‘big idea’ and have all broken away from traditional business methods.

Associated British Agriculture (ABA), a UK animal feed business, has been actively recruiting for these people for the past year.

Its chief executive David Yiend, explained he would go about attracting people with the right skills.

“We stress that we’re looking for candidates who will be provocative, unbending, and relentless in their pursuit of the goal. They have to be prepared to argue and debate, not just accept the norm.”

Yiend emphasised they did not require much integration, but instead had to be managed individually to achieve common goals.


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