George Bernard Shaw called him 'the unreasonable man'. Charles
Handy borrowed the phrase and fashioned a book around him
and our need for him in the twenty-first century. Handy called
his book, 'The Age of Unreason'. Gary Hamel, the American
strategy guru, also identifies his (or her) prominence in
shaping the future of successful organisations. Hamel calls
him, 'by nature, a contrarian', and believes that the 'beginning
of strategy is a contrarian nature'. For the first time, we
can now accurately identify this 'unreasonable man'. Thinking
Styles calls him a 'Mismatcher'.
Someone with a preference for mismatching hates being told
what to do. Being told what to do or what they should or must
do, as opposed to being asked to do something, seems to generate
an immediately negative cognitive response. These people process
through disagreement; they move from 'no' to 'yes'. In many
ways they seem to enjoy this process of disagreement, which
they perceive as challenging and stimulating rather than confrontational
or oppositional. Although there are times when the mismatchers'
first 'no' really does mean 'no', it is quite likely that
this is just the first stage of their cognitive processing.
You can either challenge them and work through the thinking
together, or return to them later when they may be nearer
a more positive response. When you get to know them, you will
be able to differentiate between the responses.
The 'opposite' of mismatching behaviour is matching behaviour.
'Matchers' tend to be more conventional. They like to fit
in, strongly dislike conflict in any form and process information
in a non-confrontational manner. This makes them likely to
agree, even when their 'yes' really means 'no'! These people
tend to be conventional thinkers who, although they may support
change, are not themselves change agents.
Interestingly, although the mismatcher's propensity to challenge
the status quo, break the rules and take risks in order to
generate change and be innovative, is often highly valued
at strategic level, very often it is not valued lower down
in the organization. Here, where people are more often expected
to 'tow the line', mismatchers tend to be viewed as being
disruptive, difficult to manage or mavericks. This is a mistake
as, where mismatchers are not valued they will move on and
the organization will ultimately lose out as their change
agents and original thinkers will be gone.
Working at both senior and operational levels has exposed
me to many different leadership styles. Two of the worst leadership
behaviours I have encountered are:
||mismatchers who like to challenge others but dislike
being challenged themselves
||matchers who dislike conflict so much that they avoid
confrontational situations when it would be more appropriate
to challenge, promote debate or even confrontational discussion.