Wesley, I’ve studied every type of leadership you can imagine. I’ve attended every seminar and read literally thousands of books. But this is a first. Violent leadership. Tell us more about this and why and how you started writing about it.
As I grew in my business, I learned that my ideas and thoughts weren’t “normal” for my profession. At the time, I didn’t recognize it. I believed that everything I was saying and doing was what everyone thought. It was when I started hearing “no” a lot and other professionals began questioning my ideas that I realized I was not thinking like everyone else. Because of that I began to write my experiences in short blog fashion and began to capture my thoughts and ideas on paper. After writing several articles and blogs, I realized I had a theme that was rooted in my faith. I lived by Matthew 11:12.
Matthew 11:12 (KJV) reads, “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.” The Modern English version says, “The kingdom of heaven is forcefully advanced, and the strong take it by force.” I was living by those incredible words: violence as force and as leadership.
Due to the obvious nature of the word violent, I kept it to myself. The phrase “Violent Leadership” is not something you would expect to see in the business world, yet it was what I lived by. The word refers to a distinctive type of leadership that is passionate, innovative, and disruptive and above all takes things by force. It does not refer to fighting, anger, or brutality. It is a positive and energetic pursuit of purpose and success. I decided to tell the world.
Violent Leadership has been my style of leadership from day one. It has evolved and grown, been tempered and threatened with termination, but it is still at the core of my belief that goals and success do not just happen. Achievement takes planning, action, risk, and disruption—it takes Violent Leadership.
“Be the thermostat that sets the tone and culture in your firm.” -Wesley Middleton
What’s the Paul Sohn definition of a sweet spot? Why does finding it matter?
I believe that sweet spot is that zone when you are living out your calling intentionally in every sphere of influence. Whether it is family, school, work, or church, living at your sweet spot is striving to find that place which is the intersection of your personality, gifts, passions, and life story. Your sweet spot leads you to live a life that matters – where you get to live out your purpose.
“Your sweet spot is the zone when you live out your calling intentionally.” -Paul Sohn
If you imagine a Venn diagram, finding your sweet spot is at the intersection of four interlocking circles. The first circle is about your personality – the specific tendencies and temperament you’re hardwired. The second circle is your giftedness, your marketable skills talents and strengths that some were born with and others developed over time. The third circle is your passions – the things that ignite your soul. And when you combine that with addressing the needs of the world that becomes a powerful force in discovering your calling. Lastly and not least, it’s your life story. You have gone through specific experiences, the ups and downs, the open doors and closed doors in life.
Copyright Paul Sohn, Used by Permission
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” -St. Augustine
Were you were born between 1980 and 2000 and are or aspire to be in a senior management position?
Do you have a boss who is younger than you from this generation?
I’m always fascinated by the research that shows how various generations act and react. Sure, the research often results in generalizations. Some of us may resist or see the exceptions. Still, there’s no denying that there is truth in the research that may help you become a better leader. Perceptions about each generation shape how we manage and lead.
Chip Espinoza is a noted expert on generational dynamics and especially the Millennial generation. How to manage them is often a subject, but increasingly it will shift to how this generation will lead and manage others.
“Invest in yourself before you expect others to invest in you.” -Chip Espinoza
What are some of the characteristics of Millennials?
Ambiguity is their kryptonite. If you want to freak a Millennial out, be ambiguous. Millennials believe everything is negotiable, and they expect authority figures to be friendly, helpful, and their advocate.
Career development is their love language, and they expect to have a voice in the organizations they work for—from day one. They also tend to confuse quantity with quality. For example, in college, if there is a 10-12 page paper assigned, if they write 12 pages, they often will think it warrants an A.
It is important to understand that intrinsic values drive behavior. Millennials have some very admirable values when it comes to work, but their behaviors are often misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Here are some intrinsic values of Millennials and how managers characterize them:
Millennials express a desire to do what they want when they want, have the schedule they want, and not worry about someone micromanaging them. They don’t feel they should have to conform to office processes as long as they complete their work.
Millennials express that they deserve to be recognized and rewarded. They want to move up the ladder quickly but not always on management’s terms. They want a guarantee for their performance, not just the opportunity to perform.
Millennials are recognized for having a great imagination and can offer a fresh perspective and unique insight into a myriad of situations. Their imagination can distract them from participating in an ordered or mechanistic process or from focusing on solutions that are viable under organizational constraints like timelines and budgets.
Millennials are perceived as primarily concerned with how they are treated rather than how they treat others. Tasks are seen as a means to their ends. Millennials are often preoccupied with their own personal need for trust, encouragement, and praise.
Millennials often experience anger, guardedness, offense, and resentment, and they shift responsibility in response to critique and evaluation. They want to be told when they are doing well, but they are not used to being told when they are doing poorly.
Perhaps due to technology, Millennial communication style can be experienced as curt. They are perceived as inattentive to social courtesies like knowing when to say thank you and please. Whether intentional or not, their behavior is interpreted as disrespectful or usurping authority.
Millennials struggle with cause-and-effect relationships. The struggle is perceived as a narrow-sightedness guided by internal interests, without an understanding of how others and the organization are impacted.
Millennials, as a cohort, are recognized for their intellectual ability but are often perceived to struggle with a lack of attention to detail. They have a hard time staying focused on tasks for which they have no interest.
Intrinsic Value: Meaning | Managerial Perception: Indifferent
Millennials find little energy in doing things they don’t consider to be meaningful. As a result, they are perceived as careless, apathetic, or lacking commitment.
“To attract followers a leader has to be many things to many people. The trick is to pull that off while remaining true to yourself.” -Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones
More than ever, your career opportunities are dependent on your reputation. The good news is that there are more tools than ever to help you get started.
Dan Schawbel is a columnist at Time and Forbes. He is the managing partner of Millennial Branding. If you haven’t read his many articles and blog posts, you may have heard or seen him in the media. As I was reading his latest book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, I happened to catch an interview with him on National Public Radio. He is an expert on personal branding and understanding and reaching the Millennial generation.
“In today’s knowledge-based economy, what you earn depends on what you learn.” –Bill Clinton
What do you say to critics who say that personal branding is self-centered and egotistical?
I really don’t think it’s possible to build a strong brand without the support of those around you. I also don’t think that being selfish is necessarily a bad thing, especially in a tough economy like this. Being selfish, in some regard, is a way of saying “I’m investing in myself so I can become more valuable and in doing so help others.” As long as your intention is to help others today or in a year, everyone benefits from you being selfish. Those that have built strong brands have empowered others to build their own and promoted their work.
“Become the expert your company can’t live without” is powerful advice. What steps do you recommend to make this a reality?
In Promote Yourself I talk about how you need to become an expert in your field. 65% of managers are looking to hire and promote experts, not generalists. You need to align your strengths to areas in your company that need improvement. Back when I worked at a Fortune 200 company, I was the only social media resource. If a department wanted to learn social media or use the tools for their own purposes, they almost had to contact me. This truly makes you valuable to your group and to your company, while at the same time giving you visibility which creates opportunities.
65 percent of managers are looking to hire and promote experts, not generalists.
You talk about the importance of social media. Why is it critical for leaders to understand and leverage social media?
Social media is the fabric of our society at this time. I started using it in 2006 because I realized that it puts everyone on the same plane, regardless of job title. Through social media you can easily connect with people in your company, profession or industry, which creates opportunities. Another aspect of social media is that the customer now has a voice, and people, in general, are moved by experts and influencers. Leaders need to understand social media because it’s a channel that people will use to follow them if they have something interesting or important to say.
“Social media is the fabric of our society at this time.” -Dan Schawbel