Violent Leadership | Book Review

"Inspiring and influencing people to love where they work
and feel part of a greater purpose in their job is a difficult
task that requires a considerable amount of personal

growth on the part of the Violent Leader." (p. 127)

Wesley Middleton shares his personal journey and transformation from archetypal Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to entrepreneur, and more importantly, to disruptive business leader. In his words, this book is for the professional services company that no longer wants to be held captive by traditional ways of doing business and wants to expand and grow in the twenty-first century (p. xx).

This review assembles selected passages, in effect creating and celebrating Middleton's pioneering leadership philosophy, in the context of his role as a disruptive CPA or twenty-first century professional services firm leader.


Let's recall eight elements of a Personal Leadership Philosophy:

What Does Leadership Mean to Me
Describe what leadership means to you written in third person.

Personal Values
What you believe in; such as honesty, commitment, respect for others.

Operating Principles
Description of how you will carry out your responsibilities. 

What you expect of others and what they can expect of you.

What you will demand and what you will not tolerate.

What’s important, and in what order.

Personal Idiosyncrasies
Your peculiar likes or “pet peeves."

Your willingness for feedback

A Violent Leadership Philosophy

Means the powerful energy that is capable of causing change (p. 2), innovation and collaboration (p. 10). Leadership means having the heart of a servant, opening myself up to the criticism of the team around me, taking that criticism to heart, and examining myself (p. 16). Passion is best when combined with purpose (p. 84).

[My] job is to get up and influence others, to encourage, motivate, energize, affect - to be a thermostat (p. 39). Our tagline is Ideas, Answers, and Results (p. 11), and [we] structure [our] organization so that everyone is doing the job they're meant to do (p. 55).

When we want something to be innovative, we get together as a group (p. 83). [Don't] be scared of shared knowledge (p. 24). Take the risk and identify one change in [our] organization that you are fearful of making but feel passionate about (p. 35). [We] constantly improve [by] questioning not only our firm's policies but also ourselves and our own actions (p. 99).

[We ask] what have [we] done that is different from others in the profession? (p. 29). When clients walk into our office, they comment on the sense of excitement, the urgency, and the energy of the room (p. 40). [Don't] get in your own way by not recognizing or owning what is wrong with [you] and identifying one thing [you] can work on (p. 107). Examine your attitude and actions every day (p. 45). In this ever more virtual world that we live in of emails, texts, and chats, your expressions are even more important, as there is no facial expression or body language by which to communicate with (p. 44).

[Our] focus is the client experience, not the partner (p. 21). We are advisors, solvers and servers (p. 62) with a client-centric approach that creates a memorable experience for our clients and fulfills the business needs of the firm (p. 62). When engaging, we approach, probe, present, listen and end with a fond farewell (p. 20).


Let's learn and share four or five things: [Your] hobbies and interests, or crazy facts about [you] (p. 122). Even making coffee [is] part of our culture (p. 80). The morning coffee experience is an important detail in getting the day started (p. 80). We welcome your feedback, but only if you are able to propose a solution along with it (p. 41). Transparency foster trust (p. 86).

For the Millennials

Middleton understands that millennials are part of next generation Violent Leadership and welcomes them:

They want to take care of those around them,
not just themselves. (p. 114)

Note: Wesley Middleton generously provided a copy of his book for review.

JE | March 2018