Bibi Baskin was the first woman in Ireland to have a TV chat show of her own. After leaving Dublin she continued to work in TV and also in radio with several stations in London including the BBC and ITV. Admitting to a restless spirit she then went on a three-week holiday to India to pursue her study of an Indian Wellness system. Instead, she stayed for fifteen years, bought and refurbished a landmark building in Kerala, south India, and turned it into a successful heritage hotel. She now lives in Cork and gives talks on wellness and motivation as well as teaching public speaking and social media. She admits to making lots of curries.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
I believe there are born leaders. According to the mind/body system of Indian Ayurveda which I have studied for decades, the Pitta type make good leaders. It comes to them naturally. But for others, I believe techniques can be learned that will put them on the path. But it’s always more pleasurable in life to follow your heart’s desire. Not everybody’s heart’s desire is to be a leader and to take on the responsibility it holds for the development and care of the mind/body/ spirit of the staff.
What do you think is the difference between management and leadership?
The buck stops only at the top and so the leader carries greater responsibility than the manager. But without a strong manager the leader will have nobody to reliably carry out his/her leadership goals. The two go together like hand-in-glove.
The world around us is changing faster than at any time in human history and we need more leaders to emerge. How do we make this happen?
In my motivational talks about change, I cite how I changed from RTE (Dublin) to the BBC and ITV (London) and then the big heave to India where I became a hotelier. I speak about recognising the uncertainty and the importance of having no fear of failure. These are the qualities in a society that we should nurture. This way more people will have a go at becoming their own leader, an experience that they can hopefully pass to others.
What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
I think it’s ego. In some cases it’s like the power goes to their head and they grow to think they are invincible. In the process they become narcissistic egotists and forget that no man is an island. ‘Ar Scáth a chéile a Mhairfimid’ (it’s in the shadow of each other that we exist).
What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?
Believe that life does go on. It continues with or without us. For shorter practices, I recommend mindfulness and meditation, looking at the goodness of nature and even lying on the sofa with a glass in hand.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
Go to Orlaith Carmody’s workshops on leadership of if she is not available read her book ‘Perform as a Leader’. The read it again and study it. Implement her practices. There’s a wide selection of TEDx talks on the subject (including one by me on changing jobs!). I also write blogs and make short podcasts on the subject of wellness because you need to look after mind and body if you’re going to withstand the challenges of leadership.