Corporate Rebels: Companies Love Them, Hate Them, Need Them, Finds Foghound Study

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New study finds corporate rebels provide significant business value, are most motivated by factors other than recognition or money, and have behaviors that management both wants and dislikes.

Rebels are an under-valued talent pool for most organizations. Unfortunately too many rebels get sent to the equivalent of Corporate Siberia for speaking the truth -- at the very time companies need to hear the truth.

Rebels – aka change agents -- help innovate companies and improve corporate culture say 90% of participants in the Foghound Corporate Rebel Survey, but only 34% percent are “very satisfied” with rebels’ ability to provide that value inside their organizations. While rebels are especially valued for challenging the status quo, that very same behavior makes companies feel extremely uncomfortable.

The greatest value rebels provide: calling out problems others afraid to (93%), challenging ineffective sacred cow practices (93%), seeing new ways to solve problems (86%), and bringing outside ideas into the organization (86%).

Rebels are most motivated (92%) by feeling like they’re making a difference to their organization. Few (27%) want formal recognition. Most (87%) want to be asked their opinions more often and be asked (79%) to work on teams to solve specific issues.

“Rebels are an under-valued talent pool for most organizations,” says Foghound president and lifelong corporate rebel Lois Kelly. “Rebels bring tremendous value to those companies who have cultures, business practices and enlightened managers open to new ideas and people with different perspectives.

“Unfortunately, too many rebels get sent to the equivalent of Corporate Siberia, where they either become passive and compliant or they act out in destructive ways. At a time where companies are desperate to innovate it’s a shame that they overlook the very people who could most help them innovate.”

Some of the rebel behaviors that make companies most uncomfortable: going around the rules (83%), questioning executive decisions (82%) and challenging the status quo. (82%)
One survey respondent wrote, “Rebels need to understand how their velocity scares other people. We take it for granted that everyone possesses our energy levels and ability to discern better ways.”

For a free copy of the findings, go to to download the e-Book, “Rebels at Work: Motivated to Make a Difference.”

About Foghound
Foghound, a management consulting firm, helps organizations get unstuck and find ways to accelerate positive change and overcome seemingly impossible organizational and business challenges.


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Lois Kelly
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