Ciara Garvan is the founder of WorkJuggle.com, an innovative, online platform connecting highly skilled professionals with flexible, remote and contract roles. Ciara holds a Masters in Applied Computing and previously worked in organisations such as Accenture, eir and Meteor.
Since founding WorkJuggle in 2016, Ciara has taken the business, which was named as one of Silicon Republic’s top Irish Start-ups 2018, from strength to strength. Until recently Ciara was also Chair of Dyspraxia/ DCD Ireland.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
Am not sure if it can be taught but it can certainly be encouraged. To me, leadership is around action and even small actions can build the confidence towards bigger things. The important part is not to be afraid to take action and that is where encouragement from a young age comes in. I am a leader in my local Girl Guides (Brigins) and it is wonderful to see how they encourage girls to take on leadership roles and how this impacts their confidence.
What do you think is the difference between management and leadership?
Management is a great skill. But if you are being deadly efficient about the wrong thing then it is pointless. Leadership, to me, is asking the hard questions, taking a strategic view and bringing people with you- because they want to, not because they have to. Marrying good leadership with great management is a wonderful combination.
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?
By encouraging people to think differently and challenge the status quo and that open-mindedness needs to happen from a young age. It takes confidence to stand apart from the group and propose a new direction. So for me, it is around building confidence and allowing people to think for themselves.
What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
I think there can be different mistakes at different stages. When you are younger you can make the mistake of wanting to be liked rather than respected, In startup world, I often see people who are completely passionate about their idea – which is great- but maybe that closes them down to valuable feedback or seeing all the risks involved. In established organisations, people can get caught up with “this is the way we do things” and being sucked into the busyness of doing rather than thinking.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?
Pressure is not necessarily a bad thing, it can give you drive and energy to get something done. But when it becomes overwhelming it can be very damaging. I discovered late in life the benefits of running and I do think physical exercise is really important. Time spent slumped over the laptop is not great for working through problems. Going outside, taking your mind off it can work wonders. Am also a big fan of making lists as it helps to break things down and feel more under control. Finally, going out with friends and having a laugh and just detaching from the situation for a few hours can give you the perspective you need.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
I have recently gotten into podcasts in a big way, my all time favourite has to be “How I Built This” by Guy Raz. It interviews people who started often quite small business and scaled up through a mixture of grit, determination and sometimes just sheer luck. What I like about it is how honest and self-depreciating the founders often are. I am often inspired by people’s personal journeys, not always from management books. One book which always stays with me is “The Hare with the Amber Eyes”, written by the ceramicist Edmund de Waal, which explores his family history through the Holocaust and the lives they went on to build after, which I found completely inspiring. Grit by Angela Lee-Duckworth and Drive by Dan Pink are also good books which I often come back to.