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The Punk Rock Leader: Why More Leaders Need to Unleash Their Inner Punk Rocker

by Thuy Sindell, PhD. and Milo Sindell, MS.

Punk Rock - the music that fuelled my skateboard charged youth still rings true in my ears today. Punk rock changed my life and how I see and interact with the world. In the context of work – punk has influenced me in a range of areas including how embraced my first real corporate job, set about trying to change the world of work, and the books I write – my second book even opens with a quote from Suicidal Tendencies first album.

To me “Punk” represents a number of traits but the touchstones that have fueled me include being true to yourself, being driven to overcome obstacles, thumbing your nose and convention and status quo, not taking the world (opinions) too seriously, and taking risks. Reflecting on the world of work and specifically leadership, there are a number of punk rock traits that I think a number of leaders could use.

What is the Punk Rock Leader and what are the characteristics:

A punk rock leader is somebody that is unconventional, creative, blazes a trail. The punk rock leader may or may not have tattoos, piercings, and a propensity for stage diving. The Punk Rock Leader is bent on doing things their way and will at times push the boundaries of the HR comfort zone. “Punk Rock” as I use the term here is more mindset than a dress code.

The Punk Rock Leader:

  • Has a Vision! Though it might it might be messy sometimes, the Punk Rock Leader has a bigger picture in mind and communicates that vision
  • Communicates Directly! You don’t have to be a psychic to know what the Punk Rock Leader is thinking. They are clear, concise and you know exactly where you stand.
  • No F#@*%N Politics! The Punk Rock Leader does not play games. You know exactly what she is thinking and what she wants.
  • Creative! The Punk Rock Leader looks at the world in a different way. He sees convention and makes a u-turn for how to do something differently.
  • Part Bulldog and Part Bulldozer! The Punk Rock Leader is stubborn, tenacious and willing to drive through barriers.
  • Fearless! The Punk Rock Leader embraces conflict and risk as something positive. She is not scared of what people think or the possibility of failure. Being a scared to try is scarier than not trying at all.
  • Bring IT on! The Punk Rock leader loves a good business challenge (and to prove others wrong).
  • Messy is Good! The Punk Rock Leader is not above rolling up his sleeves and getting their hands dirty.
  • Likes it Loud! The Punk Rock Leader is not afraid of getting ideas out on the table, kicking up dust, confronting the good bad and the ugly.
  • Speed it Up! – The Punk rock leader likes it fast; get it done, get it out, get it tested, and make it better!

I am sure I missed a few great Punk Rock Leader traits in this list. What are your favorites?

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