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Meet Judith Germain - The C-Suite Mentor, Trainer And Leading Authority On Maverick Leadership

Judith Germain is the leading authority on Maverick Leadership, an author, consultant, mentor, and speaker. A Chartered Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, she combines strategic insight and people expertise with commercial acumen; to change the way organisations think about leadership.

She has been defining Mavericks as wilfully independent people since 2005, although her work in leadership pre-dates this time. Her passion for leadership combines lateral thinking with sustainable execution and has led her to founding and editing The Maverick Paradox Magazine, hosting The Maverick Paradox Podcast and being the international radio show host of The Maverick Paradox @ KLDR Online Leadership Development Radio.

Judith has been a C-Suite and CEO Mentor for over 20 years and have been working with business owners, leaders and organisations to enable them to utilise strategic insight, innovation and execution, to enhance their impact and influence.

She is HRZone’s Leadership Columnist, and her expert opinion has been sought after by national and trade press. Examples include The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, HR Director, People Management and Pharmaceutical Executive.

Judith Germain The C-Suite Mentor, Trainer And Leading Authority On Maverick Leadership
Judith Germain The C-Suite Mentor, Trainer And Leading Authority On Maverick Leadership

Hi Judith! Can you introduce yourself a little bit to our readers?

Sure. I’ve always been a Maverick (a term which I define as wilfully independent) and in 2005 I became interested in what made someone a good leader and how great leadership is demonstrated. In between those two points are three careers, a number of industries (I follow the challenge, not the industry) and a pathological curiosity on all things that make me think differently or challenge my previously held assumptions. It is this curiosity that led me to deciding to make the enabling of Maverick Leadership my profession.

My first career was as a Commercial Underwriter, I was the youngest person in the company with a reassurance limit of £5m, which was unheard of at the time. Then I left insurance to become the youngest HR Manager, at 24 years old with no previous HR experience, at a large national retailer. In this company, the HR Manager was either the second or third most senior person in the store with both trading and people responsibility. You were expected to be able to run the store in the Store Manager’s absence, so it was important to be have up to date trading knowledge, and credibility to manage around a thousand people (across two stores) and those store’s profitability. It was a great place to learn the importance of closely understanding the business (and how it trades), and the delicate balance of leading its people. At 24 I was managing people from the ages of 15 to 65 so it was great experience for the work I later commenced. I became the troubleshooter fixing problem stores before I left retail to work in other industries and sectors.

My current career is self-directed, empowering individuals, business owners, leaders, the C-Suite and organisations to survive and thrive in complex, constantly changing environments utilising Maverick Leadership principles. It’s a lot of fun, rewarding and very diverse.

Why did you write your book?

I was frustrated that although humanity has been studying leadership for hundred of years we still couldn’t get it right. When I considered all the managers I had worked with, been managed by, trained, disciplined, promoted, mentored, coached or recruited, I was extremely upset to realise that I could only think of 5 people that I hadn’t already trained or mentored, that I truly rated and thought were excellent leaders.

I knew I had to do something about that!

When I was writing my book, The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders I saw that one of the biggest problems with leadership styles was that they assumed that there was a ‘standard ‘ leader or employee, was based in environments where homogeneity reigned and in a defined time period (usually a stable world environment with little or predictable change, with an interesting view on the nature of people). The leadership style pursued was therefore not easily transferable to modern times, where people were more demanding, the pace faster and change constant. They also appeared to focus on the idea that leadership was a form of benign manipulation. ‘If you could only do (whatever the theory was) to an individual then you could make them do whatever you wanted’.

I agree with John Maxwell that leadership is influence. You can’t influence if you are seeking to manipulate. Most leadership theories seemed to discount the impact of the leader and who they were as individuals.

When I was working as a Head of HR I could see the struggles that good people were having when they were trying to lead. They were relying on an old leadership theory that was no longer relevant and ignoring themselves as the catalyst for good leadership and change. You can’t doggedly follow a theory and hope for the best.

By the time I gave in to the many voices asking me to ‘write the book’, I had tried out my theories within a number of organisations, in diverse sectors and industries. I was able to see what worked and the lasting effect on individuals and organisations for those that followed my direction on how to be good leaders or foster excellent leadership. I was able to see first-hand the real-life impact.

My book looks at what I believe makes a successful leader, who you and what you do. Maverick Leadership has been described as being what every other leadership theory has tried to achieve. I like that! Maverick Leadership is successful because it is a philosophy without rigid rules. It is accessible for everyone and its impact powerful, sustainable, and versatile.

Why do you think Maverick Leadership is needed now?

© The Maverick Impact Fusion™ - Judith Germain

I’ve always felt that Maverick Leadership is needed! I’ve defined Maverick Leadership as a philosophy that drives who you are and what you do. It enables you to do the right thing, at the right time for the right reason. It is a way of being, thinking and doing that utilises lateral thinking, integrity, empathy, and passion, to achieve results beyond what others think possible.

The difference between effective Maverick Leaders and other leaders is their ability to lead in complex, constantly changing environments. In the past, good leaders were the ones that had studied the past and were able to accurately predict the future. Whilst the environment was not stable, the cycle of change was much slower than it is now, making change more predictable. Since the pandemic began, change has become rapid and the past is a poor predictor of the future. We need Maverick Leaders who can make good decisions with incomplete data and without relying on the past as a predictor. These Maverick Leaders are driven to do ‘what is right not being right all the time’, which releases them from the ill effects of ego and enables them to retain their objectivity. This is vital for making good decisions and leading people.

Maverick Leaders have always sought diversity of thought, which on a practical basis sees them seeking the opinions of all types of people with different backgrounds and experiences to enable better decision making. They actively ignore confirmation bias and are values-driven and principled individuals, who work from the greater good principle. They have high integrity and are considerate of the human dimension in their decision making.

In a world of hard decisions, where you need to factor in the complex environment of constant change,

unpredictable people, and shifting social norms, Maverick Leaders are king.

The world certainly needs this innate ability of the Maverick Leader, especially now.

Another factor to consider is that late Millennials and Generation Z expect to work in environments that Mavericks have always demanded and received. They want to work for managers that they trust and genuinely care for them, they want flexible employers. They want to make a significant impact and have autonomy at increasingly earlier stages of their careers, and they want development as a right, not a reward. They also want to work for employers that are working for the greater good and have a working population that is diverse in its nature.

The problem is that most organisations are not set up to provide this, with leaders inexperienced to deliver these wide-ranging changes, whilst being buffeted by the transitions of social norms and global change that they have been unable to predict and therefore control.

Whilst workers and consumers want organisations to respond positively to social change, to see a diversity of thought, people and action, to be successful at what they do, do what they believe in and work for the greater good, Maverick Leadership remains a necessity for success today and tomorrow.

What is it that you do for your clients?

I take my ability to strategise, innovate and execute a problem to a solution and show them how to do this themselves. I tend to be able to see the problem and the solution concurrently. In a nutshell, I utilise Maverick Leadership principles to enable business owners, leaders, the C-Suite and organisations, to thrive in complex, constantly changing environments, by improving their diversity of thought, influence and leadership capability.

I usually utilise either The Maverick Leadership Framework™ or The Maverick Entrepreneur Accelerator™ (see the accompanying diagrams) to design and deliver bespoke solutions for clients whether that means, training, consultancy or mentoring, or a hybrid solution.

What should people know about leadership?

They should know that leadership is personal, not a business. I see Maverick Leadership as an interplay between who you are and what you do. It is not the leadership cloak that you put on when you get to work it is the underwear that you put on when you get up. You are a leader whether you carry that title and whether you are at home or at work. Your leadership is a key part of your identity and we should always remember that.

Another thing to know is that we can all be Maverick Leaders, recognised by our reputation, integrity, belief in the greater good principle and ability to get things done, often beyond other’s expectations.

Making the impossible, possible, might be a good way to describe a Maverick Leader!

Finally, why do you do what you do?

I’m passionate about leadership done well and the effects on people, organisations and society, of that leadership. I’m pathologically curious, so I love working with different, people, organisations and challenges. Designing new solutions to solve the persistent problems people and organisations face, making the complex, simple is something I enjoy doing.

I do what I do because I believe that there is a better way of doing business in the world, a better way of being and thinking that focuses on ‘getting the job done’, with integrity, empathy and passion. I believe that as leaders (and we all lead), we have a personal responsibility in relation to the impact caused by how we move through the world and interact with others.

I enjoy having fun and being challenged and seeing others succeed, grow and empower others, who wouldn’t want to do a job like that?

For more info on Judith follow her on LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and her website.



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