Helen Burns

Helen is the coach who never gives up. From her life experiences and career, she has seen that too often people overcomplicate life. It can be way more difficult than it needs to be which often leads to people giving up on their dreams and themselves. Helen never gives up on herself, her family and friends or her clients. She is an award-winning business coach, speaker, trainer and MC.

After a ten year career in multiple industries, countries and roles Helen came across ActionCOACH (the world’s no. 1 business coaching firm) at the RDS franchising exhibition in Dublin in 2004. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for personal development and coaching. It has opened her life to wonderful opportunities, experiences and inspirational mentors and clients with whom it is a pleasure to work with. Her clients enjoy more time and money to do the things that really matter to them in life. They allow themselves to have fun again. Helen considers herself blessed to be living in a beautiful little fishing village called Fenit on the west coast of Ireland with her husband and four children. Her vision is world abundance through business re-education, by coaching each business leader to their full potential.

Can leadership be taught? If so, how?

Absolutely! There are a number of approaches that can be taken and a combination works best. One is to list the leaders you most admire, list their qualities, behaviours and values that you admire and consciously try to adopt them. A word of caution here, it’s important not to copy outright but to put your own “spin” on it i.e. always be true to yourself. Self-awareness, emotional intelligence and communication are key traits of leadership that can be learnt so, all personal development will contribute to leadership skills. There are dozens of excellent books and audio books on leadership and my favourites are “Tribes” by Seth Godin and “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell‎. If you know or get the chance to work with a leader you admire go for it! In my opinion, it is the easiest way to learn leadership. Invest as much time with them as you can. Remember there are great leaders all around us, look out for them and the attributes that make them who they are.

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

Leaders inspire and people follow them. Leadership comes from a place of passion and love. Managers instruct and pull people along with them. Management sometimes comes from a place of fear, although this is becoming less so as teams demand more leadership and managers understand the skills and benefits of leadership better. From a business perspective, both are required…maybe only until we all become better leaders…

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 need to acknowledge our own and others’ strengths. We need to value, respect and admire what people are great at, and let them know it! We can be far too quick to pick out the faults and negatives and drag ourselves and others down. Which results in withdrawal and fear, and smothers leadership. The notion that leadership refers to the boss, the coach or the captain is now outdated. Leadership is something that every individual can aspire to; in sport, work, family, community etc. Leadership is present when one has the strength, courage and confidence to be the best version of themselves. We all have strengths and when we express them to their fullest and are true to ourselves, that is when leadership, often unwittingly, shines through.

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

Lack of clarity of vision and milestones to reach it, and lack of the ability to develop teamship in their organisation. (Honestly, I tried to keep it to one!)

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

Take time out – meditate, exercise, sleep and eat well, be kind to yourself. Too often when times get tough we roll up our sleeves and try harder. When things get tougher we roll up our sleeves higher and work harder again. When things get tougher….you get the drift. While a great work ethic is to be admired, all strengths when over used are a weakness. Surround yourself with people who support you and limit your exposure to the people or situation that is causing the pressure until you have a strategy to deal with it. Sometimes we need to give ourselves the space and time to put a high-pressure situation into context and to choose the best approach. Transcending the Ego by Eckhart Tolle is an audio I listen to when I’m feeling pressure and it always helps me to put things into perspective. Talk to your coach, friend, confidante, someone you can trust explicitly and whose opinion you value.

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 believe that anyone looking to excel in any area of their life needs to educate themselves in that area by:
1. Having a coach e.g. a parenting coach, fitness coach, business coach or life coach.
2. Reading books/audios, documentaries, film etc
3. Doing courses/workshops
4. Surrounding yourself with people who also have an interest and knowledge in your area

Material I would recommend on leadership:
• “Tribes” by Seth Godin
• “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell‎.
• “Coaching for Performance” by John Whitmore
• “Carrots & Sticks Don’t Work” by Paul L. Marciano
• “Self Discipline in 10 Days” by Theodore Bryant
• “Winning” by Frank Dick
• Questions Are the Answers- Allen Pease (YouTube)
• “Triggers” by Marshall Goldsmith
• “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith
• “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek
• Transcending the Ego- Eckert Tolle (Audible & iTunes)
• “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
• “Think & Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill