The Punk Rock of Business: Applying a Punk Rock Attitude in the Modern Business Era

Jeremy Dale

392 pages, Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2018

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“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” —Tom Peters

Leadership has probably never been talked about as much as it is today and I would argue it has never been more important either. We seem to be fractured in many ways; there is discord, distrust and disinformation. Look at the political arena; look at those exposed as part of #MeToo; look at the actions of some high-profile CEO’s and some big companies who we previously trusted.

I believe we are all leaders in some sense and at some time during our week. We have opportunities to show leadership in our jobs, whether that is in an office, a school, a hospital or elsewhere. We can also all show leadership in our families, amongst our friends, or whoever else we interact with. But it’s archaic to think that leadership should only come from the top. You can lead from the front the middle or the back. I want my children to be leaders in our family, I want every employee in my company to be a leader, I want every participant in my sports teams to be a leader. We all should step up and show the way forward as we can all influence others and make a positive difference.

Leaders can spring from the most unlikely places. Take the inspiring story a few years ago of Malala Yousafzai a Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen. She was only 15 years old. Her “crime” was speaking out for the rights of girls to be educated. Fortunately, she survived and within a year Malala was propelled from speaking out in her hometown, to giving a live address at the UN Headquarters.

Since we are all leaders, we must ask what type of leader we want to be? What characteristics do we want to possess? Let me share a story that helped to shape my leadership style. —Jeremy Dale

***

At Motorola we had hired a very senior leadership guru to come and conduct a two-day leadership training session with our senior team.

During that event, I learned a really powerful leadership framework the only surprise was that it didn’t come from the guru, but from Ray Roman, my colleague who ran the sales function.

Ray was asked to talk for five minutes on his leadership principles. He started by holding up the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert L. Moore. Now I haven’t ever read that book, but it identified the four roles a mature man needs to play in his life. Ray went on to say that he had created a similar framework to assess the archetypes of the mature leader, and he had identified five: warrior, wizard, creator, simplifier, and muse. He said leaders need to be multifaceted and able to play different roles in different circumstances. For him, every leader needed to be able to play all five roles well at different times every single day. The framework really resonated with me, and in the years since then I have documented what I remember of Ray’s descriptions of each archetype and added my own words and descriptions to the framework. I’ve documented the archetypes and my current articulation of each here.

These are the five archetypes:

1. The Warrior
A person who is swift into action, who will fight valiantly and fearlessly, who does not shy away from battles and conflicts. They do this because they have a natural competitive desire to deliver the business performance and always meet their goals, which thereby enables them to claim victory.

2. The Wizard

A person who is an expert in their field, whose capabilities astound their colleagues, whose understanding and grasp of the business situation sometimes appears almost magical. They can make the exceedingly difficult appear amazingly effortless.

3. The Creator

A person who is innovative and when faced with a difficult problem is excited to search for (and usually finds) a new way to achieve the goals. They question, they ideate, they test, they refine, they love using the phrase . . . “What if we . . . ?” They never tire of searching for the solution.

4. The Simplifier

Commerce these days is complex, multidimensional, and can be just downright complicated. The simplifier can focus in on what really matters; they strip away the irrelevant so that the relevant can be clearly seen. They turn difficult tasks into much easier ones by simply reframing them, providing focus, and breaking them down into manageable pieces.

5. The Muse

A person who inspires trust, who inspires collaboration, and who inspires great performances. A person who is a confidant, a leader, and a collaborator. A person who applauds others rather than seeking recognition for themselves. A person who is highly regarded by their colleagues and partners for their market insight, their drive, their direction, and selfless teamwork ethic.

I believe these are the roles that I need to play as a multifaceted leader, and they are what I want my team members to embody too. The words matter. We don’t want salespeople who will try hard to hit their target. No. We want warriors who are swift into action, who will fight valiantly and fearlessly, not shying away from the battles and the conflicts. The words are emotive, deliberately so. I could have written that I want people with the five following characteristics: determination, knowledgeable, solution-oriented, orderly, and encouraging—that’s the same five things, right? No! There is a huge gap between someone who is determined and a warrior; an ocean between someone who is knowledgeable and a wizard.

I use this list in three ways. First, I use this framework to assess myself at the end of each day. I ask: Have I been a warrior when challenges arose, was I the wizard I would have expected, did I help in the creation process, did I simplify things for my teams, and did I help energize and inspire the people I worked alongside? If I cannot immediately see that I played at least four of those five roles in my day’s work, then I feel disappointed, and I commit to doing better tomorrow.

Second, I regularly share this material with my team and any new recruits to my team, as it sets expectations with them of the type of leader I want to be, but in so doing it also outlines the breadth and extent of the leader I want them to be. As you will see from the quote at the top of the story, leaders don’t need followers, they need to create more leaders. So, by showing them the type of leader I aspire to be, they see the traits I admire, and they see my expectations of the leaders in my team. I know many have adopted this framework or a slightly modified one for themselves.

Finally, I use this framework when I interview potential new recruits to our team. I try to assess how strong they will be in each of these areas. Do they have that hunger and determination to really be a warrior? Do they have the expertise to be considered a wizard? Do they have that creative gene? Are they able to make the complex understandable? Will they enhance the team spirit and inspire the team to greatness? What I have found is that if someone doesn’t clearly tick at least four of these boxes, then I am just not excited about hiring them; and if that is the case, I always say no.

Key Lessons

Be clear about the leadership roles that you expect yourself to play and create a daily list that you regularly review yourself against. Use as much or as little from my list as you like.

A key role you have as a leader is to create more leaders, so invest the time with your team to help develop that skill with them and be intentional about the types of leaders you want your people to be.