Leadership is about embracing risk

Tuesday, 3 October 2017 - 5:01pm

Ahead of the Homeless Link Leadership Summit on 1-2 November, Rick Henderson explains why knowing when to take chances is key to the chief executive and director role.

Rick talking giving a talk at Cafe Art

As the CEO of Homeless Link, I find myself increasingly having to embrace risk and take chances. A good leader takes risks, not because they are gung-ho but because they understand that in a resource-constrained environment the opportunities often exist outside of the mainstream ways of working. It's no use sitting around waiting for the big chances to come to you, it doesn't happen like that. Nowadays, one must be prepared to go in search of prospects; to do the legwork and make the contacts and alliances that might lead to new opportunities - and that involves taking risks.

When we first discussed the idea of becoming a social investor, for example, we knew we were entering uncharted territory. But having held a number of social investment events around the country and having sensed both a need and an opportunity, we felt strongly that it was the right thing to do. Luckily, we have a Board of Trustees that understands what we're trying to do and is prepared to come on the journey with us. That's important. Because without board-level support, it's so much harder to be creative and entrepreneurial. I have no desire to be a maverick – I want to take the organisation on a journey that everyone feels part of.

Given the precarious state of homelessness in this country at the moment, I feel passionately about the need to take a different approach. We need innovation, creativity and flexibility, now more than ever before. We need to open ourselves up to learning both from outside the sector and from abroad. And we need to invest in people and technology (and maybe a bit less in the buildings we own or base our businesses in). At our forthcoming Leadership Summit, I will be challenging the leaders of our sector to think differently about risk, about opportunity, and about aspiration. I’m looking forward to the conversation…

To find out more about the Leadership Summit and to reserve your place.

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Rick Henderson

Rick Henderson

Chief executive

Rick is the CEO of Homeless Link and was appointed to that role in July 2012. He is a member of the government’s National Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel and the London Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Task Group. 

Twitter: @rickviews