Rebel leaders we can all learn from

Jackie Fast looks at unconventional leaders and explores what makes them agents of change.

The internet has provided incredible opportunities for training and development. Information is decentralised providing the capability for anyone, anywhere, to learn anything they want. And yet, learning can still feel like a chore – especially in the workplace. When you take the addition of a global pandemic and homeschooling, it feels downright impossible.

And yet, learning and training is fundamental to getting ahead in the future of work. As the pace of innovations increase, the importance of learning and training exponentially increases. Transportation is a great example.

If you learned how to become a horse-drawn carriage driver in the days before cars, the relevance of that skill was in place for 3,800 years – which is why jobs and skill sets were passed down through the generations.

When cars became mainstream you could be a taxi driver, a profession that lasted for the next 120 years. Those were then replaced with Uber drivers who are about to be replaced with self-driving cars after only seven years. This proves that learning what is to come next is essential.

Recently there has been a slew of rebellious leaders doing things differently, indicating that what is to come next is vastly different to what has come before. They are making waves by proving that challenging the status quo is the only way to get ahead.

Ardern is a woman who knows her own mind and is not afraid of being true to her core

They have taken learning to a new level and are questioning previous methodologies. Their tactics are labelled as rule breaking because they don’t follow the standard methods that have been adopted for the past century.

Their innovative tactics are reframing our view on learning and most importantly should inspire you to try new things, forge your own path, and stand up for what you believe in. While this may not be the typical road to take, it now it’s the only route to getting ahead in the future of work.

Learn how to be authentic with Kylie Jenner

The irony that Kylie Jenner epitomises authenticity in leadership is not lost. However, it is this authenticity which has driven Kylie Cosmetics to the $1.2bn valuation it is today. Starting out in 2014 with only 15,000 lip kits, four employees, and $250,000, she was quickly able to convert her followers into advocates.

She did this by sharing her story online with her fans. More specifically openly discussing her insecurities about her appearance.

This prompted an army of young women to connect with Jenner on a level beyond your typical influencer #ads. Young women who were also going through the same insecurities of growing up and finding their own identities.


When you consider how vastly different Jenner’s real life would be compared to the average teenager you start to appreciate how much authenticity can influence. Being genuine overcomes much of the traditional challenges of connecting with someone because people can align to the person in a more meaningful way.

Learn how to follow your passion with James Watt and Martin Dickie

Unlike Kylie Jenner, co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie launched Brewdog as far from Hollywood as you could get – in a Scottish industrial estate. But like Jenner, they too have quickly become a billion-dollar empire.

The duo is frequently credited with starting the craft beer revolution, which is no mean feat when you consider that market leader Anheuser-Busch InBev has annual revenues of $55bn and controls more than 26% of the global beer market. And yet Brewdog continues to grow – powered in part by their crowdsourcing programme ‘Equity for Punks’ which has raised $95m to date.

Their rebellious attitude towards monopolistic beer companies is often reflected in their outrageous PR stunts including projecting naked images of themselves onto the Houses of Parliament and employing a little person to petition the two-thirds pint glass. But underneath it all they just love to make beer. 

It is this alignment of their values to what they do which not only propels their business but is the cornerstone for every business decision they make. Should we launch a new product? Should we go international? Should we hire this student?

Learn how to trust yourself with Jacinda Ardern

Currently serving as the 40th prime minister of New Zealand – a country with a population of less than 5m – Jacinda Ardern has boldly made global headlines.

Surprisingly, those headlines were not because she was the first woman or the youngest prime minister, but in fact, for her extraordinary leadership in her response to the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings and Covid-19, both of which have been praised and endorsed worldwide.

These serious crises would cause hesitation for many, but Ardern was decisive, bold, and adamant. In just days following the shootings she enacted immediate and sweeping changes to the country’s gun laws, banning all assault rifles and military-style semi-automatics.

Unsurprisingly she responded in the same way with the pandemic. When most other countries were wasting time debating the economy or health, Ardern quickly shut borders and forced an early lockdown. To date, New Zealand have reported 26 deaths due to Covid-19.

Ardern is a woman who knows her own mind and is not afraid of being true to her core. This has not only shone a spotlight to her tiny country, which is now influencing millions through her actions, but voters in the country have responded to her leadership by handing Ardern and her Labour Party their biggest election victory in 50 years proving making bold decisions wins.


About the author

Jackie Fast is an entrepreneur and author of RULE BREAKER: Rebellious Leadership for the Future of Work



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