Ciara Conlon is a leadership coach with many years’ experience coaching and delivering executive training programmes to CEOs and teams of all sizes. From disadvantaged teenagers to the financial sector, Ciara inspires all to move forward, making change attractive and the future more successful. She has written two books on personal productivity, her most recent “Productivity for Dummies” published by Wiley, 2016. She is an international keynote speaker having spoken at many international and local conferences. She has delivered training and coaching in organisations such as Deloitte, KBC, Savills, The Central Bank and Smurfit Business School. She is a member of the Professional Speakers Association in Ireland and is regularly hired to motivate senior leadership teams. Ciara is a former president of Network Ireland’s Dublin branch, an organisation that supports women in business. Ciara has a BA Economics and Politics, a First Class Master’s degree in Business (Leadership, Management and Strategy and Innovation), Diplomas in Coaching, Organisational Psychology and Web Design. She is also a Microsoft Office Specialist and Evernote Certified Consultant.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
Some people are born with a certain disposition to lead, we see it in small children who naturally manage to bring their peers with them. But leaders come in all shapes and sizes and some styles of leadership are more effective in some situations than others. Leadership is not a one size fits all and the traits that work in one scenario may not work in another. A lot of the obvious traits of good leadership can be taught, strategy, decision making and good communication, while the traits such as compassion, integrity and internal motivation may not be as easy to learn. Nevertheless, we can help people to be more self-aware, to manage their own shortcomings and work at improving the traits that help them to become better leaders.
What do you think is the difference between management and leadership?
Management is concerned with day to day control, ensuring that everyone is doing what they should be doing, while leadership is about setting the vision, inspiring people to change.
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?
We can start to teach the skills of leadership at a younger age, teach children the value of communication, conflict management, giving and receiving feedback. We can help children to be more resilient at a younger age by helping them to understand themselves and others. We wait too long to explain to children how we are all different, if they understood personality and behaviours sooner it would avoid a lot of stress and conflict in later life.
What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
Not including their team in the decision-making process. Some leaders believe they know best and forget to use the knowledge of the group.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?
Take a deep breath get some perspective on what is happening, its always a good idea to speak to a coach, someone objective who will help you to see things as they are and not clouded in the emotion that you are feeling about the situation.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
Simon Sinek and Daniel Pink have some great books. I love Michael Hyatt’s blog or Harvard Business Review, always have thought-provoking articles.