Joe O’Connor

Joe has worked in the fitness industry since 1998 and began lecturing in exercise physiology in 2006. As a fitness consultant he has worked with All Ireland winning GAA teams and elite level athletes who have competed in European, World and Olympic Games. Joe is the founder of Nisus Fitness Training Club and which offers remote health & fitness coaching for time poor high achievers in business. Finally, he has featured as the Referee and Performance Consultant to RTE’s Ireland’s Fittest Family since it began 5 years ago.

Can Leadership be taught?

I don’t know how effective teaching leadership is but I definitely feel it can be learned and developed within a person. Your leadership style is a reflection of your personality and therefore saying there’s a right or wrong way doesn’t apply as everyone is an individual. I have worked for and with all types of leaders, all unique in their own way but the best leaders I know are true to themselves and are honest hard working people. So I’d prefer to say leadership can be learned as opposed to taught and in that leadership is learned on each persons individual journey in life.

If you could wind back the clock what would you do differently?

Stop and appreciate what you have in the moment. Don’t be always looking down the road. I’ve missed some important things in my life while pushing for a better future. Stop and smell the roses before dusting down and pushing on again

When you are filling a leadership role in your organisation what qualities do you look for from candidates?

Someone who can see their own strengths and limitations but more importantly have strategies to cope with adversity and self-development. Its easy for a leader to motivate and/or criticise but the challenge is to create a plan with people to help themselves to be better. For me a leader facilitates growth rather than demands or instructs growth. For this reason, effective leaders need to have people skills that encourage others to be the best version of themselves. Also, I have found the best leaders take great joy from watching other people excel and achieve great things. I don’t know any bitter or insecure leaders who really achieve great things in life.

If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?

I would ask our team to continue to develop our systems of operation so that the business continues to be current but also that each member of the team has the opportunities to develop both personally and professionally. I like Richard Branson’s views that we should make our team members so good that they could leave at any time but treat them well enough that they don’t want to leave. Systems of operation have to be fluid and driven by the people who have the most touch points with those systems. So I’d hope that the systems would continue to improve which would develop the company but also each individual within the company.

What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years’ time?

Moving with and adapting to technology developments to offer our services to a global audience. Working on building the best team who have the knowledge and experience that matches our philosophies for now and the future.

What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?

Not an individual but more so the leadership philosophy throughout the All Blacks Rugby team. When reading the book Legacy I felt that leadership was dispersed everywhere, at every level by everyone. Yes there were clear leaders in the traditional sense but the 15 Rules to be an All Black forces everyone to lead in their own way. For me leadership is not a top-down approach but an organic growth or responsibility throughout the whole team, group or organisation. Each person has to lead themselves to be better first and then has the responsibility to lead by example in everything they do down to the smallest detail.

So I admire many people but its hard to say I admire them as leaders as I have never seen them lead from the inside of their organisation. Its hard for me to honestly say I admire their leadership as I haven’t seen it. I’d admire their success and that of their team for sure.

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 drive a lot and therefore Audio books and Podcasts are essential to my personal development. I don’t know when I listened to the radio in my car last.

Books that I enjoyed of late and related to this article would be:

– Different: Escaping the Competitive Heard by Youngme Moon

– Leaders eat last by Simon Sinek

– Change your habits, Change your life by Tom Corley

– The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

– Start with Why by Simon Sinek

– Drive: The Surprising truth about what motivates people by Daniel Pink

– Start Up CEO by Matt Blumberg

– Extreme You by Sarah Robb O’Hagen

– Outliers: The Storey of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

I’m currently listening to Mark Manon’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” and I’m finding it entertaining albeit a little out there.

The Podcasts I listen to tend to be industry specific and are either fitness and nutrition research based or fitness business based