David Gillick is a former professional track and field athlete, his achievements include 2 times 400m European Champion, World 400m Finalist, 2008 Beijing Olympian and national outdoor and indoor 400m record holder.
After retiring from a successful athletics career which included winning Ireland’s first sprint gold medal in 76 years along with running inside 45 seconds for 400 meters and making a global sprint final, David found some hidden talents and interests. From full-time corporate employment to the celebrity MasterChef kitchen, he has gone on to follow his passions of fitness, food and promoting a healthy lifestyle. He has written two bestselling books, “David Gillick’s Kitchen” and more recently “Back On Track”, David’s 4 part plan to a healthy lifestyle, in which he openly and honestly talks about his struggles with mental health and the strategies he used in recovery. He now runs his own business as an active food writer and author, media contributor, speaker and health advocate. He currently resides in Dublin with his wife Charlotte and two young kids, Oscar and Olivia.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
Yes! Through asking questions, a willingness to learn, asking for advice and following in the footsteps of great leaders. There are plenty of personal attributes that make great leaders but there are also common traits that effective and successful leaders possess and these can be taught to others who are willing. Sharing experiences and knowledge is the way forward.
What has sport taught you about leadership?
Confidence and ownership! Sport has taught me to have confidence in my ability and to go for it, take that step and don’t be afraid to back yourself. Taking ownership of your talents and your passions are fundamental and sport has helped me realise the importance of owning what is important to me.
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?
The world will continue to change with new industries, technology and businesses constantly emerging. As a result, we will have leaders in each new area breaking new ground. These leaders will have similar attributes to existing leaders which should be highlighted and harnessed to inspire and teach the next generation. How do we do this? Building a network, highlighting the positive stories through the changing world of technology in the form of podcasts, videos and online media. Of course, it would be great to witness these people in person, but that’s not feasible for everyone so I think leaders out there should be willing to be open and share their stories through whatever means possible and step forward in this changing and in some cases uncertain world.
What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
Ego can be something that can easily manifest itself as time goes by. Don’t forget the people who helped you on the way up and it is important to remember to help others who probably look up to you. Learning to trust others, communicate whilst staying grounded and humble are key attributes in maintaining an effective leadership.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?
Talk! Asking for help and advice can have a huge impact regardless of your position. Some people are very good at this, and in my experience I have witnessed many leaders simply facilitate discussion around high-pressure situations, resulting in a better outcome and therefore less pressure. It could be a simple conversation over a cup of tea, or getting the opinion of people you trust most. There is no weakness in asking for help or assistance.
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 recently went on an Own the Room course and I found it really beneficial. Podcasts are great and I listen to The Tim Ferriss Show and the MFCEO project podcast which are both great for interesting stories, tips and advice. Personally, I think find a mentor or mentors, I have found people only too willing to help if they see a desire and attitude to learn…don’t be shy!