The 3 Principles of Rebel Leadership (Rebel Talent)

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Rebel Talent" by Francesca Gino. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

What are the three principles of rebel leadership? Why should you aim to be a rebel leader?

According to Francesca Gino in Rebel Talent, being a rebel leader will help you challenge the status quo. In the process, you’ll influence others to do the same.

Continue reading to learn the basics of rebel leadership that you should adopt.

The Principles of Rebel Leadership

Gino says that rebel leadership is for everyone, not just leaders with a staff. Being a rebel leader involves adopting a mindset and way of functioning that centers on challenging the status quo in pursuit of your goals, and then helping others do the same—even when the road to reach those goals is bumpy. As is true with rebel talent, the benefit of rebel leadership is the potential it offers for innovation and transformative change.

Gino lays out eight principles necessary to become a rebel leader, five of which closely mirror the rebel talent elements she explores in the first part of her book. To limit redundancy, we’ll review the three principles of rebel leadership Gino explores that don’t overlap with the five previously discussed rebel talent elements.  

Principle 1: Rebel Leaders Ask for Feedback 

The first way rebel leaders lead is by seeking out information that will help them understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and those of their company, to achieve better results.

For example, seeking feedback from an executive coach, career counselor, or therapist can be a challenging process, but it can make you a better leader and person. It can be uncomfortable when someone tells you things about yourself that you don’t want to hear. But if you act on suggestions they’ve made to help you in your work and life, you can become a more well-rounded and functional leader and person, which will make others want to spend time with you and learn from you.

Principle 2: Rebel Leaders Treat Obstacles as Opportunities 

The second way rebel leaders lead is by seeing constraints as a chance to be resourceful and produce creative results. 

For example, let’s say a designer is working with a manufacturing company to build an innovative product, and he receives word that the company no longer wants to make the product because it’s too complicated and costly. The designer, convinced that the product is valuable, returns to the drawing board to redesign it. He discovers that tweaking the design makes it an even better product than the last one. He approaches a new manufacturing company and they agree to make the product. (Shortform note: Want to test Gino’s theory that limitations can make you more creative? Try telling an entire short story in six words, like Hemingway did, or summing up your life in a single sentence, like Stephen Colbert.)

Principle 3: Rebel Leaders Lead From the Ground Up  

The third way rebel leaders lead is by being willing to “get their hands dirty” alongside members of their team, to get the job done. 

For example, when a member of a restaurant’s waitstaff doesn’t show up to work on a busy night, a manager can show her rebel leadership skills by stepping in to help bus tables, take customers’ drink orders, and do whatever else it takes to keep things running smoothly on the floor. When leaders demonstrate their commitment to getting the job done—even when that requires them stepping into roles they may prefer not to do—they set a model for everyone else that, “we’re all in it together, and are here to get the job done.”

(Shortform note: Can your efforts to support your team as a rebel leader ever go too far? The answer is “no,” according to Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, authors of Extreme Ownership, who argue that when it comes to leaders, what sets the best apart is a willingness to take responsibility for problems and failures, rather than finding someone else to blame. The authors assert that it’s equally important that leaders allow members of their team to own victories, rather than try to claim credit for those successes, to stress the importance of “team” rather than “individual.”)

The 3 Principles of Rebel Leadership (Rebel Talent)

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Francesca Gino's "Rebel Talent" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Rebel Talent summary:

  • Why you should tap into your inner rule breaker
  • A guide on how to break the rules constructively
  • The three principles for becoming a rebel leader

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *