Fiona Murphy

A fellow member of the ACCA and a Masters of Business Management; Fiona Murphy has worked in the finance field for over 15 years and gained wide-ranging experience in both multinational and Irish indigenous companies; also experiencing working-life in Brussels, Paris and London.

She is passionate about promoting the next generation of leaders, particularly the role of women in leadership positions.

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

Some leaders surround themselves with people with whom they have much in common, people who are, in essence, mirrors of themselves and their own values. Great leaders, however, are open to being challenged by fresh perspectives and fresh ways of seeing the world. If we consistently surround ourselves with people who are just like us then we lose the potential benefits of fresh insights and diverse opinions. It is through connecting with people who are very different from ourselves that we continue to grow.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to not think about the outcome so much. If something inspires you or you find yourself curious to travel or work in a different industry then give it a go. We cannot see the outcome of our decisions until we start “doing”. It is when we are on the path that doors open, opportunities present themselves and outcomes we could never even have envisaged, become possible.

What qualities do you believe are the most important to be a leader? If not all these qualities come naturally, do you have any tips on how to cultivate them?

I believe humility is one of the most important characteristics of any great leader and the ability to recognise that you alone do not have all the answers. In order to inspire and motivate others to follow your vision, you need to create an environment that engages, inspires and empowers your team. Fostering collaboration, being open to being challenged and welcoming fresh ideas will ensure that there is trust and openness in your team. Leaders need also to have courage to see things as they really are and not be afraid to have difficult conversations or make tough decisions when needed. First and foremost to be a good leader you must understand yourself. Get to know yourself and be honest about your strengths, your values and your boundaries. Cultivate a questioning mindset in yourself and seek honest feedback from those you trust.

If you were designing a leadership program for schools what would you focus on?

It would be wonderful if leadership programs for schools were offered more frequently! I would focus on learning vital skills such as building emotional intelligence, cultivating resilience and effective communication. I would also create a program that allows for the incubation and cultivation of new ideas and fresh thinking, that kind of thinking that young people so naturally have!

If you had to name three characteristics of great leaders what would they be?

Humility, Courage and Positivity.

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

  • The IMI leaders podcast
  • Ted talks on any topic imaginable!
  • Experts on Emotional Intelligence such as Susan David author of “Emotional Agility” and Daniel Goleman author of “Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ”
  • Brene Brown-“Dare to Lead”
  • Mindtools website for answers to lots of work-related questions
  • There are tons of books and resources on leadership out there: Be curious, find someone that resonates with you and go from there!