Aidan Kelly is President of Tralee Chamber Alliance and has run his own business Kelly O’Shea Pensions & Financial Services Ltd in Tralee since 2006 along with his business partner Gerry O’Shea. He is a Qualified Financial Adviser and a fellow of the Life Insurance Association since 2004. Aidan is a Rotarian since 2007 and is a Past President achieving their Paul Harris Fellow Award in 2014 for his work with Rotary. He is active as a member still, meeting every Tuesday in the Imperial Hotel, Tralee for their lunchtime meeting. Aidan also works in a voluntary capacity with the Rose of Tralee International Festival each August. Aidan has been involved with Baile Mhuire, daycare services for the elderly since 2005 and has developed the centre over the last number of years in conjunction with the voluntary board to make it a vibrant daycare centre for older people within the Tralee area. Baile Mhuire operates 5 days a week and caters to over 120 older people every week. Aidan has worked closely with the HSE, Intreo, TUS and many others to make sure the centre is providing the best facility possible for the older people who need support whilst staying in their own homes.
Aidan has recently completed a Degree Level course in “Leadership for Equality achieving a 2.1 from Maynooth in the process. He hopes to bring this learning to his new role as President of Tralee Chamber Alliance.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
Having just completed a level 8 course in “Leadership in the Community” through Maynooth University, yes leadership can be taught but the person has to be open to challenge themselves on the notion of “Leadership”. It is not a linear option, its like stock markets, volatility is part and parcel of leadership. I found that whilst I may have leadership qualities and tendencies, I had to open my mind to learning new concepts on becoming a better leader and understand, conflict, change and where “power” lies in a group or organisation. Anyone can learn something once open to the challenge, its then putting that into practice and learning again, that’s the real trick!
If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?
If I had to leave for 1 year, I would ask my team to stick with the values we have built up as a team and retain the notion of who are we “in service of”. Any team with a clear focus and feeling of empowerment will survive and grow, it’s often the ego of the founder that can prevent growth, if the right people are in place, the work will get done!
What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?
I am involved in 3 organisations and all very different, from pure commercial to community and a charity. All have different challenges for next 10 years and in my primary business, I would see the challenge being me having a clear exit strategy! Plans are great but to survive you have to allow for adaption and moving in a direction not foreseen. My main focus now is making sure that I am as effective as possible for my clients and give them a reason to stay doing business with me instead of the competition.
What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?
I admire anyone who takes a chance on trying to achieve something that will make an impact either on their business or their community. Leaders come in all different guises and once they share the vision and purpose, I am with them. I would not identify any one person or group because no one has all the answers and leadership evolves with learning. A leader can be a person who has a small role within a group but does it well and gets on with the task at hand!
If you could wind back the clock to when you were starting your career what advice would you give yourself?
Be patient, open, challenge yourself, accept that you do wrong and learn from it and learn humility. Celebrate the successes and try not to dwell on the downside. Associate with positive people as much as possible and try to ignore negative influences. Watch your ego, be kind to others who might not share the vision and remember to ask for help!
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
Brian Tracy was a great inspiration to me early on; Stephen R Covey and Robert M Pirsig books are very interesting, also Peter Drucker, and Richard De Bono. Lately, I find Brendan Ho has great articles to share on Flipboard and I would say the Leadership Course through Maynooth was a huge learning curve, check out CAN based in Dublin, might challenge you but what the hell!