Industrial Insight

Weirdos… | September 11, 2014

Corporations Aren’t Recruiting Enough Weirdos

By Martin Davidson September 09, 2014

We need to expand our definition of diversity to include the weird—a group often maligned and avoided. These are people who appear to us as different, strange, and even offbeat; they just don’t fit in.

There is potency and innovativeness in certain kinds of weirdness that can help businesses thrive.

The key for leaders is to figure out how to support weird people so that they create—not destroy—value for the company. Some of these people have stifled their offbeat creativity out of social fear, camouflaging their true selves because they think it’s not appropriate at work to be as they really are. They leave essential parts of themselves at the office door.

Weirdness manifests itself in two ways. One involves people who act weird just to oppose the norm. I call that the “little w” in weird. Little w is all about “me.” It makes you feel good to be different, but you’re not contributing what you could—what is really needed. These weird people often have voracious egos.

In contrast, “big W” weird people oppose the norm, though not just for the sake of standing out. Rather, they are trying to see something or to achieve a larger goal, and they know that following a normal path won’t get them there. Often these folks are more humble than their “little w” brethren; they are just focused on getting a great result.


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About author

I'm the executive vice president for a steel casting trade association, the Steel Founders' Society of America. I've got a crazy wife, five crazy children, three crazy people that married into the family, and two crazy fun little grandsons.







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