We catch up with some of the nominees for CEO of the Year at this year’s IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards to talk what it takes to be a great leader. Grab a notebook, put the kettle on, these women have some wisdom to impart.
Keep the conversation going
In my experience, the best leaders are the ones who listen closely and communicate honestly. Honesty engenders trust, something it’s very hard to build positive genuine relationships without. A good leader is not a solo runner; they are one of the team. They support and inspire people to be the best version of themselves, both professionally and personally.
Sinéad Doherty, CEO, Fenero
It is important to create a space for conversation – words are women’s tools. It is through our conversations that women keep each other grounded by sharing stories with one another which in turn creates a supportive environment for the translation of one’s personal values into one’s professional life and into a shared sense of corporate social responsibility.
Sandra Daly, CEO, Mercy University Hospital, Cork
All good leaders I have met share two characteristics. First of all, they are passionate about their field. For example, they love the product their company is making or they truly care about the service they deliver. Secondly, they always care first and foremost about the end result of their work. In other words, they set high standards for their own performance, and they constantly think about how to support their team in achieving even better output. You would perhaps see this focus on the end result as something given, but bad leaders are often pre-occupied with other things entirely – things like status and hierarchy, for example.
Anna Malmhake, CEO, Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard
Acknowledge your team
Don’t just tell a colleague how a job is done. Always ask ‘what do you think?’ It’s great encouragement, and you might even learn something.
Catherine Heaney, managing director, DHR Communications
Honesty, the ability to build trust and empower your team to do the right thing
Anne Heraty, CEO, Cpl Resources plc
Beng smart in all aspects of life, to your benefit both professionally and personally, whilst always acknowledging and rewarding the contribution of your team and all those who support and enable you to achieve your goals.
Amanda Roche-Kelly, managing director, Just Eat
Believe in your ability
As a leader, one of the challenges I find we face which is not often spoken about – to have a consistent belief in yourself, to break through the barriers of fear of failure and thrive on the adrenalin when you do it. It can be a lonely place with few colleagues at your level to sound out ideas/ concerns/ issues etc. But surrounding yourself with key people to guide and advise you when needed is of huge support and limits the time you spend questioning yourself.
Grace O’Shaughnessy, managing director, Java Republic