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The BNH Book Review: Rebel Talent

Published Friday Jun 26, 2020

Author Terri Schlichenmeyer of The Bookworm Sez, LLC

“Rebel Talent”
by Francesca Gino
2018, Dey St .
$27.99/$34.99 Canada                      
283 pages

Your latest hire came highly recommended. His former employer spoke favorably about him but there was something unsaid that you picked up on, and it’s nagging you. He’s very competent—and yet, he’s also pretty far outside the box. Read “Rebel Talent” by Francesca Gino, though, and you’ll wish you had more employees like him.

Your business undoubtedly runs on rules: When to be at work, how to claim territory, when to meet, and when to leave. But sometimes, rules need to be stretched, bent, and broken.

In her career as a researcher, Francesca Gino studies things like that—how employees react to rules and how corporations thrive or fail. As it turns out, those are all strongly linked and what Gino calls “rebel talent” may be a powerful game-changer.

Rebel talent is knowing how to harness the power that comes when behaving “in ways that are unconventional or unexpected.” There are, Gino says, five core elements of rebel talent: the ability to see when change is “clearly in our best interest,” curiosity,  the ability to turn personal experience into real-time relevance, knowing that differences aren’t divisive but are enhancements, and authenticity.

In her book, author Francesca Gino doesn’t take a cause-and-effect tactic. Readers don’t even get instruction here; instead, you’ll read anecdote and examples of small businesses and national corporations that turned around, grew, or reinvigorated after doing things in ways that counteracted what conventional wisdom indicated.

Gino advocates allowing workers more autonomy and listening to what they have to say about their workplace. She shows how not doing so can hurt both the entity and employee.  

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