How to Get the Most Out of Rebels Versus Obligers


To attract and retain the best people it’s very important to understand how people are alike and how people are different in terms of what is going to allow them to do their best work. For instance, I have a Four Tendencies framework where I divide the whole world into four tendencies. One tendency (it’s a very small tendency) is “rebels”. Rebels don’t want to do what somebody else tells them. They want do what they want to do in their own way and a lot of the time they can do great work. They can think outside the box, they don’t worry about meeting other people’s expectations and they often really love a challenge.

If you want to hire or retain a rebel, you have to understand very clearly that the way to get the best work out of that person is not to supervise; it’s not to offer a lot of guidelines or suggestions. The way you attract a rebel’s attention is you say “you’re the one who’s got the chops to get this done. Here’s your challenge. Blow me away” and walk out the door and let that rebel meet that challenge in his or her own way.

Now, with other people like “obligers” they need a lot of accountability, they need deadlines, they need supervision, they need that sense that someone’s holding them accountable – that’s how they do their best work.

So if you understand how people are alike and how they are different from each other,  then you can understand how to speak to them in a way that’s going to make them be attracted to the workplace, to think “this is a place where I can be excited to come to work every day,” and also allow them to be productive while they’re there – because sometimes very different management styles are appropriate to people, and you have to know how to speak their language if you want to reach them effectively. 

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