Lisa-Nicole Dunne

Lisa-Nicole Dunne joined CMRF Crumlin as Chief Executive Officer in September 2016, bringing over 18 years’ strategic leadership experience from across banking, life, automotive and telco before her roles in non- profit sector. Lisa-Nicole has helped raise over €60 million for charitable purposes since she joined the sector in 2009 and transformed the funding and branding strategies working with Focus Ireland, UNICEF Ireland and with CMRF. CMRF Crumlin raise funds for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin and Ireland’s only dedicated paediatric research centre the National Children’s Research Centre. Through strategic partnerships, multi-channel marketing programmes and community engagement CMRF Crumlin raise €12 million per year for sick children.

Lisa-Nicole has held roles with BMW Group Ireland and Irish Life and Permanent Group and was an adjunct lecturer at Dublin City University for over five years. Lisa-Nicole has previously served as a board member of Children Direct and Fundraising Ireland and currently sits on the board of Charities Institute Ireland. Lisa-Nicole is the founder of The Lunchtime Circle an initiative that looks to foster and develop excellence, success and balance, supporting people, charities and start-ups. In 2015 she was recognised as DCU Alumni of the Year for her contribution to charity, while two years earlier she was awarded the accolade of Professional Fundraiser of the Year. She holds a BA from University College Dublin, an MBA from Dublin City University and a Diploma in Psychology from the College of Management and IT.

Can leadership be taught? If so, how?

Some leadership attributes can be learned, developed with experience and self-awareness.  Leadership includes a lot of internal on-boarding and securing buy-in and that is about developing strong relationships and influencing, and that can be learned.  I learn through a mix of leadership development and mentoring, and also take lessons from the best and worst bosses I have had and by being a sponge, and hungry for data, and that can be learned. I think it is vital to check in with your leadership development skills and learning regularly – whether through courses, reviews, mentors, 360s or coaching – so you are not in a bubble.

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

They can be so different but I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive either. Good managers can have wonderful leadership attributes. We can all lead in any role through our style, approach, humility, cooperation, engagement skills and still be good managers holding people to account whilst encouraging, empowering and clearing the way. Certainly, as I have developed up through non-profit management and leadership roles I feel I have had to straddle both, being operational often, and strategically planning and focused on the future as often as possible too. But the key difference is that leaders are more future-focused and inspiring, people want to be part of their tribe and go on the journey with them.

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?

Teaching self-awareness and confidence early is critical I think. Addressing issues that mean more women lean in instead of out. And diversity in a wider sense too. I really believe in empowering and developing people around us at every level to lead more and more, through cross-functional projects, leading in hobbies and recognising their transferable skills and believing in themselves. I started The Lunchtime Circle to try and create more opportunities for people at various levels to develop their leadership skills, confidence and connections and I think employers recognising and valuing leaders in all roles will help bring more natural leaders to the fore.

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

Taking the credit or putting people back in a box. People always remember how you make them feel.  Loyalty, innovation and incredibly hard work come from a team who feel empowered, valued, and engaged – and that has to be fostered, encouraged with risks taken, and credit given. The other thing I see a lot is indecisiveness.

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

My mother always said what’s for you won’t go by you and don’t sweat the small stuff. It is easier said than done to be unaffected by high pressure, often a problem shared really helps whether with a boss, coach, mentor, colleague, partner, sibling. Always try to get the worst stuff over quickly so it doesn’t loom. I encourage people to hand-raise, ask for help early. I also think it can be useful to compartmentalise things so that you don’t think about them all day and remember you can’t control everything and once you are doing your best and trying new things to problem solve, that is all you can do. So often high pressure comes from people issues, my advice on these is to deal with them, whether by a quiet coffee, honest conversation, or performance management, people issues can completely stress you out, lead to enormous productivity drains and they don’t tend to go away without some intervention. Face it. It will only get better.

At CMRF Crumlin, we have run mindfulness and productivity courses for everyone to help develop a greater sense of well-being, with well-being and health workshops as part of our engagement strategy and we try and support people to develop, learn and become experts in areas outside their normal day job too, which keeps the team connected to the cause and reminds them they are contributing to helping sick children and their families and care teams every day and there is a lot of comfort in that.

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

Common Purpose courses, Emotional Intelligence Ireland as a starting point, The Leadership Rooms and would highly recommend a super coach. I have worked with several and have benefited from many wise words from Aine Maguire at Persuasion over the years. I still refer to Fergal Quinn and listen to Bobby Kerr a lot too – two rocks of business sense. Also, I try to meet Sr. Stan as often as I can as she continues to inspire and distil her incredible wisdom regularly. Surround yourself with a network of incredible people and soak it all in.