Lorraine Higgins is Deputy CEO with Retail Excellence, the largest industry representative organisation which supports Irish retailers to be the best they can be. Retail Excellence involves over 1750 leading retail companies who operate in excess of 10,000 stores in the Irish market. We provide HR Advice, Market Insights, Representation, Learning, Events and eCommerce support to all of our members.
Coming from a family who are generations in retail she is also a qualified barrister and a former Senator who served in the 24th Seanad following her nomination by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the recommendation of Eamon Gilmore. She is a graduate of NUIG and The Honorable Society of King’s Inns and has worked as a barrister and law lecturer.
Can Leadership be taught?
Some people instinctively have leadership traits to the extent they are leading the charge in their everyday lives and have not even stopped to think about it. But, there is no doubt you can develop leadership skills and that can come through strong and capable leaders investing time and attention in fostering the qualities necessary for leadership within colleagues at every level.
When you are filling a leadership role in your organisation what qualities do you look for from candidates?
A willingness to show leadership by bringing colleagues with them, showing innovation in terms of thought, working on their own initiative and considering ideas from other members of staff. Collaboration is essential in any organisation and the ability to listen is a critical skill for leaders. In addition, the ability to align each individual’s mission to the overall goal of the organisation as cooperation and teamwork is essential for any successful organisation.
If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?
Progression and the ability to think outside the box is the most important part of any organisation. It is very easy to fall into the same patterns and routines but progressive businesses should always strive to grow and change how they operate for the better. A natural evolution is integral for organisations to succeed as they advance in an ever-changing marketplace.
What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years’ time?
We in Retail Excellence recognise the natural fluctuation which occurs in our industry so, core to everything we do is to help, assist and support Irish retailers be the very best they can be. We also seek to change the landscape and conversation around the retail industry in Ireland, to build greater awareness of how critical retail is for the Irish economy on both a national and local level while strengthening the voice of retailers on a national stage to ensure the needs of our industry are heard and that the importance of retail to the public consciousness and national conversation is recognised.
What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?
Peter Drucker is often called ‘’the founder of modern management’’ and his ideas around internal cooperation, prioritisation of duties, constructive dissent within the organisation and accepting accountability are key skills that would serve any person in a leadership role well.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain an insight into becoming a better leader?
Find someone whose leadership style you admire. Someone who you find to be convincing and who appears to be a positive leader, from Drucker to Hillary Clinton, read about their lives, their ethos about leadership and what drives them. Apply those ideals to how you operate and you’ll find yourself becoming the type of leader you admire.