Social entrepreneur, Tammy Darcy is the founder of The Shona Project, a non-profit organisation that educates, inspires and empowers Irish girls to become tomorrow’s strong, capable and confident women. Through her school workshops, events and online platform, Tammy has reached thousands of young women since Shona launched in October 2016. The organisation is inspired by Tammy’s own story and that of her sister Shona.
In October 2017, Tammy received a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Award. Like most social entrepreneurs, Tammy is led by creating societal change and helping others. She holds a BA in Management, an MA in Business Management and is currently undertaking an MA in Education.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
Leadership can be taught, in various ways, but mostly by example. I personally have learned more from leaders who walk the walk, than those who talk the talk. I studied leadership in college and feel the learning is deeper and longer lasting if you get an opportunity to apply it as you go. I am constantly learning, surrounding myself with inspiring people, reading, listening to podcasts. If you think you already have it nailed you need to think again.
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 believe a great leader empowers their team rather than controls them. For me, the sign of a great leader is that if anything happened to you, the organisation can survive and thrive without you, because you have done your job well. That is the difference between a leader and a manager. I would always encourage my team to trust their instincts and to not be afraid to ask for help if they need it. I would also remind them to remember why we started this project, and to keep that in mind at all times.
What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?
Never for one second assuming that we know exactly what we’re doing. Involving others as much as possible, especially young women and girls. We are always planning for the future and the entire team is involved in these conversations. Again, and not to keep harping on about it, but I believe that you need to be constantly learning and improving.
What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?
I admire leaders who are authentic, driven by the heart and not the head. You can’t fake authenticity, and people are drawn to leaders like this. I love Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, Gary Vaynerchuck. I also admire people who are good storytellers, it’s a key skill and one I’m always working on.
If you could wind back the clock to when you were starting your career what advice would you give yourself?
Things will come together in the end, when you are ready. Recognise that there is learning in positive and negative experiences. Trust your gut 100% of the time. And finally, always speak from the heart, and be authentic.
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 love podcasts, especially those that deal with social change, empowerment or independent thought. I love Malcom Gladwell, Brene Brown, and Simon Sinek, I also listen to a lot of Ted Talks. At home in Ireland I love Dil Wickremasinghe and Ruairi McKiernan. I would also advise anyone starting in their career to learn from those who are further down the road in terms of experience. Offer to buy them a coffee and ask as many questions as you can think of. Most people are very generous with their time.