Playing Devil's Advocate is something that comes naturally to Mavericks. It is their primary assessment tool, and one that is most misunderstood. Socialised and Extreme Mavericks play Devil's Advocate differently - and it's all about intention. An Extreme Maverick may want to bring attention to themselves, challenge another's authority or discover a flaw in an argument or a problem.
Whichever the reason, it is rarely for the sole benefit of others and the Extreme Maverick will always refuse to take on this role if he doesn't gain some benefit from it.
He would rather watch you fail.
Playing Devil's Advocate - The Socialised Maverick's Way
The Socialised Maverick is different, they are always working for the greater good. Their motives are more pure, and they are able to maintain their objectivity - even in the face of their biases. An unusual ability, but a great analytical tool. Socialised Mavericks are always looking for objective truth and as such uses their excellent ability to play Devil's Advocate twofold.
- To analyse the situation. To find out what the objectives are, what is really wanted. To test the mettle and conviction of others.
- To test themselves. They will have a hypothesis and then go out hard to disprove it. This way they will provide enough rigor to their problem solving. First they will try and find as much evidence as they can for the counter argument. Then they will look for evidence that supports their view. Once they have a rounded argument, they will objectively assess where the actual truth lies.
- As a learning tool for others. A gentle way to point the individual in the right direction, by getting them to understand that there are flaws in their arguments. Often without hurting their feelings, or them even realising.
I cannot lie though, both types of Mavericks will play Devil's Advocate for 'the hell of it', if they are angry with the individual. For the Extreme Maverick, there needs to be little provocation to take this route.
Socialised Mavericks need to be almost incandescent to bother with this tactic. If they don't care for the project or the individual then they are indifferent. They will not play Devil's Advocate, because to do so would be to help the individual that they do not care for. Or project that they are not interested in.
They know that they have unusual insight and would prefer to not offer it. They are happy to watch you live with the consequences. They aren't ego centred and have no point to prove.
This is why playing Devil's Advocate is the most misunderstood tactic that a Socialised Maverick plays. They ONLY do it because they care, and if they care, will continue to do so even if it brings negative consequences to themselves.
A Socialised Maverick that chooses not to play Devil's Advocate - is a Maverick that no longer cares. This is something that you would want to avoid.