Enda Corneille

With over 30 years’ experience in aviation, Enda Corneille was appointed Country Manager (Ireland) for Emirates in 2014. With a team of 32 staff located between the Dublin sales office and Dublin Airport, Enda oversees and manages all operations for the Dubai-based carrier in the Irish market. Enda has previously held a number of senior positions with Aer Lingus as well as being a global instructor with IATA in Geneva, where he delivered airline management training to a range of carriers. He is visiting lecturer to Cranfield University in the UK and holds a first-class honours MBA in aviation management.

Can leadership be taught? If so, how?

Even from an early stage, the innate social skills of empathy, listening, curiosity and self-awareness are clear to see in great leaders. Yes, a certain amount of leadership theory can be taught but this should always stand as a framework against which the individual’s natural talents can flourish. True learning can only come about through harnessing these natural abilities in real experiences – difficult decisions taken or challenging situations handled. Mistakes will be made along the way but your leadership skills will be forged and honed too.

What do you think is the difference between management and leadership?

Both are critical to the success of the business. On the one hand, leaders must inspire and empower, clearly describing a vision that is so compelling people want to follow them towards it. Yes, the route might be difficult and bumpy but worth it eventually. Management, on the other hand, by its nature needs to be much more operationally focused. I have found that transformational success happens when leaders and managers collaborate closely and visions are realized into plans and actions and ultimately outputs.

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?

Leadership is sometimes about taking risk – even putting yourself forward as a potential leader carries some risk! However, delegating real responsibility to a new leader is also not without risk. One of our most important jobs as leaders is to identify, nurture and support fledgeling leaders – providing that safety net for them to make and learn from their mistakes, gradually delegating more and more responsibility to them as their confidence and ability grow side by side. Sadly some leaders see threats and dangers to their own position in this approach and are reluctant to let fresh talent soar. I have always firmly believed that such an approach is extremely rewarding – strengthening the team and ultimately benefitting the business in countless ways.

What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?

The speed of impact of the drivers for change is nearly always faster than the organisation can respond to. Therefore leaders need to make decisions and implement solutions against the context of environments that are dynamic, novel and difficult to forecast. Inaction, disconnectedness and loss of focus are all too common in weak leaders. Change should be seen as a ‘climbing frame’ not a ‘cage to try and escape from’. Change avoided is usually opportunity wasted.

What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?

As a leader in high-pressure situations, it’s always so important to be self-aware and to know when you need to step away from the fray. If not, fatigue sets in and decision-making suffers. In general, however, it’s vital to have a good work/life balance and perhaps have a place where you can go that is away from the action. Mine is our house in West Cork near Rosscarbery. The change of pace and natural environment allow me space for thought, reflection and rejuvenation.

What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?

There are plenty of books and material to read, but I would recommend sitting down with a leader (current or retired) and just have a conversation with them. You’ll be amazed at how willing they are to chat and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be even more amazed by the stories they might share with you.