Liam Sheedy is Munster Provincial Director for Bank of Ireland and is a former All-Ireland winning manager with the Tipperary senior hurling team. A former Tipperary hurler he went on to manage his county to All-Ireland Minor glory in 2006 and delivered National League and two Munster titles at senior level before capturing All-Ireland success in 2010.
A background in engaging with a range of stakeholders from political, business, sporting and media led to his appointment to the board of Sport Ireland’s High-Performance Committee. Liam won the Irish Volunteer in Sport award in 2012 and he is also an RTE hurling analyst on The Sunday Game.
What has sport taught you about leadership?
Sport has been hugely influential in teaching me about leadership. There are so many characteristics of leadership linked to being involved with sports teams. Key ones for me would be work ethic, teamwork, belief in yourself and your team, high performance, communication, constant improvement and of course your ability to absolutely enjoy the journey. I am certain that my involvement in sport has moulded me into the leader I am today so that’s why I love seeing young boys and girls getting involved in all sports because it gives them superb life skills that will benefit them throughout their careers.
What are the essential components to building a winning team?
Creating a bond that sets up that family environment where people will go to extraordinary levels to ensure they themselves and the team are operating to the maximum. Getting everybody to buy into what the team is trying to deliver and understanding that personal gain will be an outcome of the team being really successful. All of the items I mentioned earlier are key.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
I am a massive fan of hard work as the line that always sticks with me is hard work beats talent because talent doesn’t work hard. Give me a team of people who are willing to commit 100% and give absolutely everything all of the time and I would be happy in any sector or sport. I would much prefer to have the right people with the wrong strategy than the other way around as attitude and honesty will take you a long way in life particularly if you have a leader who inspires you heading it up.
If you could wind back the clock to when you were starting your sporting career what advice would you give yourself?
Give your best all of the time and that way you can have no regrets. Do not spend your sporting career in a comfort zone but challenge yourself to be operating at the top of your game all of the time. Make fantastic friends because life is all about being surrounded by really good people when things go wrong from time to time. You will have setbacks but don’t let them get to you as you never lose in life you learn and when you do have those bad days it’s a fantastic learning opportunity that should not be missed. Overall it’s the enjoyment and fulfilment that can be got from being involved in sports either as a player or coach that is so enriching so make the absolute best of it.
What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?
I have huge admiration for numerous leaders and I use every opportunity to look to generate conversations that accelerate my learning on leadership. Jack O’ Connor was the first manager I met when I took charge of Tipperary in November 2007 and he was simply superb to me over my time with Tipperary. He gave me 4 hours of his time initially and was always at the other end of the phone as a sounding board throughout my time. For me, its not about your net worth it’s all about your network and I am very fortunate to have built up a tremendous network of people that have been an outstanding support to me.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
Great leader, Great reader is how it was put to me so there is nothing I love better than getting the time to have a good read. Most of mine are linked to high performance or managing people because I am like a sponge around this topic. I always have a highlighter in my hand as it allows me to pick out the nuggets and then at any stage I can look back over it and use it for my leadership pieces or seminars I might be involved in. John Wooden is one of my favourites and he has many leadership books my favourite being “Wooden on Leadership”. I have loads of others but 2 I would highlight would be Dale Carnegie – “How to win friends and influence people” plus my great friend Declan Coyle who wrote about “The Green Platform”. He managed to get me onto it in 2008 and glad to say I am still on it which is the only place to be in life!