Joy Neville is a former Ireland woman’s rugby international captain and current rugby international referee. As a player Joy represented Ireland both at the 2006 and 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cups. In 2013 she was a member of the Ireland women’s team to win both a Grand Slam and the Women’s Six Nations Championship.
Since taking up refereeing in 2014, she has taken charge of the Women’s Six Nations, the World Rugby Sevens Series and the Women’s Rugby World Cup, including the Women’s World Cup Final in 2017. Joy has also achieved a number of firsts as a female referee in the Men’s professional game. Since 2016, Neville became the first female assistant referee for a European Challenge Cup, the first female to referee All Ireland League, Welsh Premier Division, British and Irish Cup, European Challenge Cup and, in February 2018, took charge of the men’s Pro14 fixture between Ulster and Southern Kings. In 2017 Neville was named World Rugby Referee of the Year and also Munster Rugby Referee of the Year.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
While it is a mix of nature and nurture I believe leadership can be taught once someone is willing to embrace it. To put yourself forward and have a desire to lead. Different experiences can provide learning opportunities. Surround yourself with a supportive team and a strong mentor that will help you develop as a leader.
What has sport taught you about leadership?
Firstly you need to be a leader in your own life and take responsibility for yourself and what you can bring to a situation. In sport, you need to take ownership and responsibility for your own actions and decisions and bring added value to the team. If you make a mistake or fail at something you garner more respect and learnings by holding your hand up and admitting it. To always have humility and respect for people in your team, we are human, we have different things going on in our lives.
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 provide and offer opportunities for the next generation to develop their confidence as leaders and assist them in their growth. A leader never stops learning no matter how long they have been doing something. While the world is changing, how we treat people and communicate with them is of paramount importance.
What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
Problems and conflict normally occur when communication fails. Two-way communication is vital for success.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?
Perspective is very important. Often it is not the situation that is the issue, it is how we deal with it and how we let it affect us. Think rationally about the situation that you are in and look for advice and 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?
There are many good Ted Talks in this area, it is always good to look at ones outside your field. “Lean in” by Sheryl Sandberg, “Leaders at last” by Simon Sinek.