Martha Shaw Interviews Akaya Windwood, President of Rockwood Leadership Institute


Courageous Conversations: Social Venture Network Interview Series on Transforming the Way the World Does Business.

SVN (Martha Shaw): Does it take a lot of courage for you personally to be a leader of leaders?

Akaya Windwood: It takes courage to lead in these times. It’s dicey out there! The things we thought we could count on, we can’t count on anymore. People want concrete answers, which aren’t necessarily available in times of deep uncertainty — outcomes are not predictable. We need to be brave enough to say, “I don’t know.” It takes courage to say, “I’m not sure.” Or, “Let’s try something else.” It used to be you could make a good plan and if you had a good plan, you could predict what would happen. For instance, a social ill would be ameliorated. Or the financial risk factor would be X%. It’s not the case anymore.

SVN: How does fear play into courage?

Akaya Windwood: Courage is about acknowledging fear and doing what feels best for all concerned anyway. When people are not only putting their money, but their heart and their passion on the line, that takes courage. Woohoo! I think that this is a time in the world when people are operating in a great deal of uncertainty and that can make people afraid. When people are afraid, they don’t make the best decisions. That’s why good leadership is so important! That’s why Rockwood Leadership Institute is so important.

SVN: What does SVN mean for you?

Akaya Windwood: Well, SVN is a place where people go to say, “My business has to be about more than just my pocket book. I want it to have meaning” The days of doing things alone as a leader are past because it doesn’t get you very far. But when you get leaders together, it matters a lot. That’s why SVN matters. It’s a gift.

Akaya Windwood is the President of Rockwood Leadership Institute. She is recognized for elevating the effectiveness of leadership and collaboration, for infusing a sense of purpose, delight and wonder into our lives, and for her vision of a global community working together as a fair and equitable society.

Since 1987, Social Venture Network (SVN) has been the leading network of entrepreneurs and investors who are transforming the way the world does business. SVN’s Spring Conference, Courageous Conversations, will take place April 25-28 in San Diego. Visit for details and to register.

Interview by Martha Shaw, founder of Earth Advertising, which promotes the growth of environmentally responsible businesses through brand strategy and media campaigns.