22 May 2018
By Kirsten Henson

The Need for Rebel Leadership

There seems to be a growing consensus that we are running out of time in our fight against planetary destruction -  oceans choked with plastics, toxic cities and ever-increasing carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere.


Add to this the increasing frustration against the lack of opportunity for social mobility, inequal access to education and healthcare and it is not surprising that people are starting to call for a different type of leadership.


Amongst all of this, there is an increasing awareness that new disruptive business and economic models are required to create a paradigm shift. This is often when the entrepreneurs and micro-businesses come in to play. We are not bound by the same business culture that says we do it this way because it has always been done that way.


For those of us that work in micro-consultancies we are able to challenge and push without fear of losing our jobs or being over-looked for promotion. If a client doesn’t want to be challenged then the chances are, they wouldn’t engage us in the first place.


At KLH Sustainability we are fortunate enough to have been sought out by a number of clients recently that do want to be challenged, and that want to challenge the norm to deliver new and exciting products to the market place.


One such client is aiming to deliver 100% affordable housing across numerous London boroughs, and quickly. This isn’t affordability defined as 80% below market rates, as anybody in London knows, that sort of rental value is still not affordable for many of London’s key workers. This is affordability as defined by the boroughs themselves, with a knowledge of average incomes and housing needs. Also, worth noting that this isn’t affordability to the detriment of housing quality; Home Quality Mark and Passivhaus are just two of the standards that are being applied to the developments.


Another client, a smaller design led developer has set out his ambition to deliver zero bills, life-cycle carbon positive homes by 2020, and at no additional cost to home buyers.


We affectionately call these clients our rebel developers.


I have been called a rebel myself, and I took offence at what I perceived to be a slight. With hindsight I now realise what a compliment it is. The world needs more rebels.


But this isn’t a blog about our exciting new projects and clients at KLH Sustainability. It is intended to be a gentle encouragement to set your sights high, ignore whatever societal pressures you feel to conform, and break the mould.


Eight years ago, when I set up KLH sustainability a number of colleagues in a similar financial, family and career situation said to me “I wish I could”. When I asked them “why don’t you?”, none of them could give a convincing reason as to why not. More recently, over breakfast at a conference, I mentioned to a well-respected company director that I split my time between the hectic London streets and the peaceful French Alps, he told me he’d always fancied smoking ham in Spain. I asked him why he didn’t make that dream happen, he told me it “wasn’t the right time”. At over 60 years of age, one has to wonder if the right time will be too late.


The point is whether personal change, business change, or indeed widespread governance and fiscal change there will always be fear. But the opportunity, and indeed the desperate need, for new entries to the market place, for defining new ways of working and for redefining wealth across the globe has got to be worth the risk.

Share this article