Punk leadership – complete control?

This blog is written by Graeme Reekie, Director of Wren & Greyhound, and a respected charity specialist with more than 25 years' experience. Find out more about Graeme here

We've begun exploring the idea of 'punk leadership' with out partners at ACOSVO, with a workshop at their recent members' day and a dinner that was hosted on 28th June. 


Punk Leadership is a convenient tag to describe a non-conformist mindset. Not many of our discussion participants were really into punk, but they all described feeling ‘different’ in childhood. At first this was alienating, as family pressures and societal mores constrained people’s identity and expression.


But in our discussions, everyone described the moment in life (usually in childhood) when they first came across a counter-cultural mindset. It might have been through punk or jazz, or through alternative role models – or anyone who showed us that things don’t have to be the way they are. Either way, there was a time in people’s lives when they no longer just felt different – they became proud to be different.


Finding other non-conformists legitimised their identity and ideas and led them towards the lives they live and the choices they make today. The biggest single realisation we had as a group was that we are the people we are, doing the jobs we do, because of these experience. 


There is a resourcefulness that comes from thinking differently. In our leadership roles, we can’t usually be outspoken, political – or maybe even be fully ourselves at work. (As one participant said, ‘I’d change the world…if only they let me!’). But we can work for what we think is right, push boundaries, take risks, make mistakes, challenge the status quo, and be prepared to disrupt our own and other people’s ways of thinking.


Radical leaders are few and far between. But as another participant put it, ‘We are the grassroots sector, we must remember grassroots culture and grassroots communications’.