News | March 12, 2022

National Reading Month: Rebel Leader

By Mahlon May DLA Disposition Services PaCE Program

Editor’s note:  March is National Reading Month. Everyday reading increases knowledge and develops personal and professional skills. Throughout the month, the DLA Disposition Services Pathways to Career Excellence program participants are sharing insights from books* they recently finished. 
*No official Department of Defense endorsement implied 


Book cover of Rebel Leader
March is National Reading Month
March is National Reading Month
Photo By: Kelly Burell
VIRIN: 220304-D-D0441-305
VUCA is an acronym used by the United States military that stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

According to author Larry Robertson, “Rebel Leadership” is used to, “describe a world or situation in which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous; and not just here or there or occasionally but everywhere and enduring.”

That phrase embodies today’s world, and the way businesses and organizations must learn to adapt to it.

The most predictable idea in life is that things will change - the when, why, who and what may be unknown, but change will come.

“Rebel Leadership” caught my attention immediately due to the relevancy in today’s world, the past ways of business and life that are changing at an accelerated pace and the book addresses that.

The book pointed out that the traditional structure of businesses and organizations’ belief in top-down solutions, being communicated from a steep hierarchy, can no longer compete in today’s uncertain times and fast paced evolution.

Companies and organizations can no longer rely on making strategic choices based on an annual or quarterly basis. The pace of change has been expedited so strategic choices must be made daily and even hourly.

The pandemic brought rapid change, but that change was simply the newest wave of uncertainty the world had to face, and we all must understand that the era of sustained predictability is over, and uncertainty is now our new normal.

“Rebel Leadership” presents evidence through stories, interviews and applicable data about people who possesses what the author Larry Robertson believes to be the qualities a rebel leader makes them more efficient in navigating companies and organizations through uncertain times.

One key attribute a rebel leader possesses is the ability to see leadership in a new light, understanding that having the title leader does not equal leadership. The idea of traditional leadership, in which a company relies on one person at the top making decisions, is rapidly becoming obsolete.

Rebel leaders understand that leadership is a shared human capacity and can come from anywhere in an organization. A rebel leader allows leadership to shift to where it’s needed the most.

The author goes into detail about the shared qualities rebel leaders have and one characteristic that resonated with me was “the acceptance of soul as a quantifiable quality.”

The author views a soul not in a religious framework, but as having a fuller sense of who you are in the context of what you do and how that ripples out and impacts others.

Rebel leaders prioritize and pursue the soul as a primary attribute and instill it deeply with the strategies they create and the culture of the organizations they nurture.

The soul and how it relates to the success of rebel leaders is a large subject in the book and to fully grasp the concept I think some readers will need to remove how they interpret the word soul.

“Rebel Leadership” was a very interesting book, and it gave me a better understanding of the general idea of leadership. The book included interviews with highly successful leaders and introduced me to new concepts and ways of thinking. The rebel leaders highlighted throughout the book span from every type of organization you could think of from Icelandic soccer coaches, college chancellors and CEOs of small and large companies and organizations.              

My takeaway from “Rebel Leadership” is leaders that will be best equipped for our uncertain times will be those who value people over metrics. Metrics will always be an ebb and flow, but it is the culture of the business or organization that will rise to the amplified demands of uncertainty.

Rebel leaders will be unyielding in upholding the behavior within their organizations and holding employees accountable. The personal interviews made the book feel intimate, personable and made the reading more fluid. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone living and working in these times of uncertainty.


“Rebel Leadership” is available through LMS/Skillsoft for DLA associates.