The concept of positive deviance — the characteristic of a person or organization that deviates in some way from the standard and uses difference as an asset or a resource that can be leveraged to advantage — has been gaining traction in behavioral science. And Darden Professor Laura Morgan Roberts states that leveraging difference in this way can be a powerful tool for driving change.

Positive deviance, in its essence, is about how we, as individuals and organizations, can go ahead and deviate from the norm but do so in ways that are honorable or generative or both — that have positive impact and open the door to others to do the same.

- Laura Morgan Roberts, Associate Professor of Business Administration

Roberts shares four strategies for those who embrace positive deviance to use:

  • Excel, excel, excel – stand out through hard work and high performance
  • Style it out – rely more on your own personal style instead of matching everyone else
  • Speak to power – challenge power systems to open new doors or break barriers for yourself and others
  • Be human – advocate for your own self-care

Read the full article on Ideas to Action.

This article is excerpted from Executive Education & Lifelong Learning’s Women in Leadership: Faculty Insights whitepaper. Download the full whitepaper to read additional perspectives on negotiation, decision-making, building influence, and more from Darden’s world-renowned faculty experts.