There’s nothing more punk rock than thinking outside the box; there’s nothing more outside the box than managing your team or company counter to management fads and good old common sense.

For a while, I was (and occasionally still am) a singer in a punk rock band. Don’t get me wrong, it has never been anything glamorous. We’ve never toured the world – just occasional gig here and there. I must say, though – leading a band, writing songs and performing for a live (and often challenging) audience has been one of the most formative experiences in my life. It has taught me grit and perseverance. It has enabled me to conquer my social fears.

Still, music has always played just a minor role in the punk movement. For me, the scene has been mostly about ideas that it brings to the table.

What is punk? I’m not here to define it – I’ve never been a part of the movement to the extent that would make me comfortable doing that. Fortunately, there are people out there who can do it for me.

Greg Graffin, the lead singer for Bad Religion, and one of my personal heroes, defines PUNK in the following way:

  • PUNK IS: the personal expression of uniqueness that comes from the experiences of growing up in touch with our human ability to reason and ask questions.
  • PUNK IS: a movement that serves to refute social attitudes that have been perpetuated through willful ignorance of human nature.
  • PUNK IS: a process of questioning and commitment to understanding that results in self-progress, and through repetition, flowers into social evolution.
  • PUNK IS: a belief that this world is what we make of it, truth comes from our understanding of the way things are, not from the blind adherence to prescriptions about the way things should be.
  • PUNK IS: the constant struggle against fear of social repercussions.

Can this definition be applied to management and leadership? Most definitely. Good management and leadership should be about asking the right questions, self-progress, questioning the status quo, being a maverick and challenging the bullshit (remember, that’s a philosophical term). I already published some resources on that.

For me, punk rock is not the music you listen to nor the clothes you wear. It’s the way you think and approach real world problems.

The bottom line is that you don’t need a mohawk to be punk – you just need the right, critical attitude, acknowledging that “the truth comes from our understanding of the way things are.”