The Need for Practical Wisdom in Start-ups : Why bother?

An introductory guide to Wise Leadership

GreenPepper Capital
6 min readMar 6, 2022


Co-authored by Dr Elizabeth King and Kenneth von Rausch for RedPepper Mergers and GreenPepper Capital

Article Objective: To foreground the role that wise leadership (with its inherently systemic approach to making decisions) might play in addressing the 6 categories of sustainability challenges, when managing innovation start-ups, (link to these) identified by our commercial ecosystem.


Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If’, was written as advice to his son in 1895. But it also captures the challenge faced by start-ups, where leaders can be challenged when growth aspirations and constrained budget cause contradictory pressures.

Allowing for the context and the time (1895) the poem outlines a framework for how to survive through life with integrity and behaviour based on values.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
And the poem’s final words….
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

Kipling’s words are powerful, and while they are a father’s words to his son in an earlier era, they still apply in the current day as being any parent’s plea to their child to play an active part in creating a better world. At the core of this plea is what it means to be a “contributing citizen”.

Kipling’s words remind us of the need for all start-up leaders, be they founders, change-enabling investors or expert advisors, to have a set of guiding principles — in essence a group ‘North Star’.

It is increasingly accepted that we cannot continue to lead as we have in the last decades. We must change how we lead and how we make our decisions to guide our leadership approach. It is recognised that there are 7 levers for effecting change (towards a more sustainable world and ESG led business strategy), these being
• Policy and regulation
• Finance enablement *
• Technology advances and solutions *
• Trade and commerce *
• Capacity building *



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