What’s Rare is Valuable – Decision Making Defines the Leader #52 #cong21


Good leaders make good decisions. The process may change. Some steps are easier that others, some steps can break down under pressure, but if you have someone at the helm who is a sense maker, who is empathetic, creative and capable of assessing alternates clearly and capable of establishing the merit, in context and while staying independent of vested interests, then you have a decision maker… and you have a leader.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership is characterised by many traits of which decision making is a distinguisher.
  2. The value of a leader is not about the volume of input but the impact of output.
  3. Good leaders create meaning in context for those around them.
  4. Good leaders can connect options and likelihood of success rate to arrive at good decisions

About Padraig McKeon

A Sligoman based in Dublin, Padraig McKeon has been either studying or working in Communications since the early 1980s

He has his fingers in a range of pies, paid and unpaid, as a consultant and a director. He also lectures in DCU, is the dad to three opinionated young women and is sports mad.

He is innately curious and loves making connections between his experiences and problems that need solving… and it only takes a cup of tea to get him going.

Contacting Padraig McKeon

You can connect with Padraig on Twitter and LinkedIn or send him an email.

By Padraig McKeon

It’s a familiar refrain that we hear a couple of times a year, whether spurred by the latest unpopular decision by a government, the reappointment of a controversial executive by a public company or the sacking of a high-profile sports manager – “how can they be paid so much?”

A lot of the misunderstanding lies in the presumption that remuneration is about working ‘harder’ and that there is a correlation between hard work, or effort, and reward.

The reality is that high reward is mostly about paying for something that is rare – an ability that few have and that even fewer can execute and deliver on, consistently, while under pressure and in any prevailing conditions.

There’s a lot written about leadership – about ‘soft skills’, emotional intelligence, and most of all good communications skills but a critical distinguishing characteristic of the leader in any organisation is the ability to make a decision. The capacity to make decisions is what they are paid the big bucks for.

More particularly it is about making decisions that are good and that is it is a rare ability. The renowned consultant and educator Peter Drucker, regarded by many as the father of modern ‘’management” thinking, noted that “effective executives do not make a great many decisions. They concentrate on what is important… They want impact rather than technique”!

So, what marks out the decision maker, how does one get good at making decisions.

The decision-making process can be broken down in different ways but a University of Massachusetts summary paper, I saw recently set it out well as a process delivered in seven steps

  1. Identify the decision required
  2. Gather relevant information
  3. Identify the alternatives
  4. Weigh the options,
  5. Choose among the alternatives,
  6. Take action and execute
  7. Review and evaluate

That’s the process but what are the characteristics of the person that can deliver across all the steps – what are the characteristics we should look for that are, apparently, worth so much.

Sense making. We live in a time of dynamic, high speed information flow. There’s a lot of, often raw, data that needs to be shaped into intelligence. It’s a skill to apply meaning to the information around us, in context.
Empathy. The ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of others – those that might be impacted by circumstances – from their point of view, but dispassionately.
Creativity and innovation. The capability to see outcomes or solutions, and to have the capacity to envisage options and alternative approaches to a situation.
Judgment. The capacity to interpret what is available in terms of evidence that points to the right option.
Independence. The ability to ‘stay above’ the pull of those that might have a particular interest.

Good leaders make good decisions. The process may change. Some steps are easier that others, some steps can break down under pressure, but if you have someone at the helm who is a sense maker, who is empathetic, creative and capable of assessing alternates clearly and capable of establishing the merit, in context and while staying independent of vested interests, then you have a decision maker… and you have a leader.

Leadership in my Second Brain #51 #cong21


Leadership is a prime topic that has followed me from my days as an Air Force officer. Thoughts about leadership are deeply embedded into my second brain.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Deep thoughts about leadership are on my book shelf.
  2. There’s a visual dimension of leadership I can see in photos, screenshots, and whiteboard snaps I’ve saved.
  3. I’ve learned a lot about leadership by culling flows of social media.
  4. I make my biggest impact with leaders when (1) I share high quality snippets (2) I can suggest and track action steps.

About Bernie Goldbach

Bernie Goldbach is an American in Ireland who teaches creative media for business in the Technological University of the Shannon.

Contacting Bernie Goldbach

Find Bernie Goldbach on all good social networks as @topgold. He posts regularly on Twitter and LinkedIn. For deep thoughts, head over to Inside View.

By Bernie Goldbach

Since #cong21 is very public, I asked my bookshelf about leadership and I fell into a rabbit hole about ancient history. Deep thinking about leadership is a good thing.

While in university, several professors revealed the important role of leaders in military campaigns. I read part of Edward Gibbon’s seminal work on the Roman Empire and heard Robert Paterson cite the legions during his opening address at reboot9 in Copenhagen. Ten years ago I recorded a podcast that combined elements of Paterson’s speech along with some thoughts of my own about fraternity and literacy that complement leadership. I wish I had a better audio library because that podcast segment included some very deep thoughts. Fortunately, one part of my second brain (Flickr) has a note from the podcast session.

Leading with Data

I know I’m lucky to occupy a senior role as a university lecturer. I have taught students since the early 80s and should be retired but instead I want to soldier on through the next iteration of the creative multimedia degree programme that I helped articulate in 2002 in Ireland. To ensure I can lead from the front of the classroom, I continue to refine and share information that I cull from my second brain. When reduced to its core essence, it’s just a set of trusted sources. I plan to share these sources during a virtual huddle with people connecting in the Congregation.

Some of these trusted links extend back to webmaster-shoptalk, boing boing, slashdot, and boards.ie. I don’t actually visit those sites regularly. Instead, I listen to musings on those sites and then ask AI to surface the most interesting snippets.

Working with the data

It means nothing to gather information if you don’t intend to master elements of the data you trust. In my working world, a lot of important data points surface inside email threads. As much as I abhor email, I know it’s important to master its flow or I am relegated. So I’ve started setting up alerts that push to my mobile phone and I’m using “focus” as an essential service inside Microsoft Outlook. Best of all, I’ve convinced university students to circumvent email and use Teams chat or direct messaging to reach me fastest. And I’ve totally removed the whack-a-mole sequence of “when can we meet” by using Calendly to book time to chat.

Leading with Data from Second Brain

I realised something very important while locked down during COVID when my main channel of conversation happened only during virtual meetings. I realised I made my biggest impact by sharing (1) qualified snippets with (2) suggested action steps. This realisation has become a hidden aspect of leadership for me.

How this works for me and how someone might borrow the workflow is something I intent to share during the 2021 meet-up in Cong.

The Rest of the Story

To follow more thoughts about leadership, you could visit InsideView.ie, my Old Skool Blog.

Leadership and Closing the Gender Gap #50 #cong21


The future of leadership is gender equality. When women are at the decision making table better, more holistic, risk averse decisions are made that are good for everyone.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. We need gender quota legalisation not voluntary targets.
  2. We must to close the gender pay gap.
  3. More Flexible and Remote work grows gender equality.
  4. Women’s Sport is driving a change in societal norms.

About Barry Mac Devitt

Barry has spent most of his career in marketing working for a number of multinationals across the food and telco sectors. He has also worked on the agency side too, so he knows the other side of the fence as well.

More recently though he was CEO of DesignTwentyFirst Century a not-for-profit that was one Ireland’s pioneers in promoting design thinking as an approach to advancing solutions, engendering change and unlocking new ways of learning in people. Some of this work was featured by Jeanne Liedtka, one of the worlds leading authorities on design thinking, in her bestselling book ‘Solving Problems with Design Thinking’.

He is now an independent consultant who wants a more gender balanced future for his three daughters.

Contacting Barry Mac Devitt

You can connect with Barry on LinkedIn.

By Barry Mac Devitt

Men and women have long had unequal access to leadership and positions of authority in Irish society and in the workplace. Despite significant gains over the past 40 years, this inequality still persists today.

Women are still significantly under-represented in senior decision-making positions in Ireland’s public and private sectors, in politics and on state and non-state boards. Women comprised just 22% in 2020 of Irish listed corporate boards, while incredibly 19% of listed companies had no female directors at all. The situation is somewhat better on state boards which now comprise 41.5% female directors but its taken over 25 years to get to this.

The latest CSO also continues to highlight the gender pay gap, which stands at 14.4% which means that across the workforce, women earn – on average – 14.4% less than men for every hour they work.

This still exists despite the vast majority of people in Ireland, over 75% according to latest research by WorkEqual, believing that this needs to change urgently and be driven by government.

The wider benefit that gender equality brings not just in business but in society as a whole I hope should be undisputed at this stage. Research consistently shows that diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams and that having women at C-suite level doesn’t just make businesses more profitable but its better for employee welfare, work life balance and the organisations wider impact in society.

In the current pandemic you just have to look at the countries where women are heads of state to see shining examples of effective leadership. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Germany and Slovakia have been internationally recognised for the effectiveness of their response. These women leaders were proactive in managing the virus, implementing social distancing restrictions early, seeking expert advice to inform health strategies and unifying the country around a comprehensive response with transparent and compassionate communication.

Put simply when women are at the decision making table better, more holistic, risk averse decision are made that are good for everyone. Had we had more women on the boards of the banks leading up to the 2008 financial crash one wonders if it ever would have happened.

So I think the future of good leadership starts with speeding up gender equality.

I don’t claim to have all the solutions here and there certainly isn’t one silver bullet but here are five things to speed up the change:

1) Bring in gender quota legalisation to force private companies to have at least 40% gender balance on their boards. Positive laws imposing gender quotas, rather than voluntary targets, generate the most significant improvements in gender balance in the workforce. This has been demonstrated in the countries where legalisation has recently come into force – France, Holland, Italy, Greece, Belgium and Germany. This was also a key recommendation by our Citizen Assembly on Gender Equality. When women are in leadership positions that shape business policy there is a trickle down effect that benefits not just other women but everyone.

2) Close the Gender Pay Gap. Legislation compelling employers in Ireland to disclose their gender pay gaps was enacted in 2021. This legislation needs to be enforced over the coming months and years not just in compliance but also by incentivising employers to make meaningful progress in tackling the issue i.e. by being required to submit an action plan to close their gender pay gaps at the same time as making their disclosure.

3) More flexible and remote working. If there has been any silver lining as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic its been in that we can have more flexible work options including remote working and still be productive. More employers now have realised the benefits of these work options for both women and men.

4) Leadership Team balance – ladders to the board. Quotas don’t apply to leadership teams but this where future female talent has to be nurtured otherwise backsliding occurs. Support, training and mentorship are all required to constantly grow this pipeline.

5) Changing societal norms. As a father of three girls I’m super conscious of the gender stereotyping thats exists all around us and from an incredibly early age. But I’m encouraged when I see the groundswell of change happening particularly in things like sport. Women’s participation and success in sports like soccer, GAA, hockey, golf, sailing, boxing and recent media campaigns like 20×20 ‘if she cant see it, she can’t be it’ are all really encouraging signs of a positive shift that is happening.

The future of good leadership is gender equality, let’s make it happen.

Sport and Leadership #49 #cong21


Does sport, particularly for female athletes, develop leadership abilities for business and lead to better career success?

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Always be true to yourself
  2. Know your values
  3. Sporting traits transfer well to business
  4. View sport as a lens for society

About Yvonne Comer

I spent years working in London before returning to Ireland to do an MBA and I’m now a budding entrepreneur who has started a business that is going to revolutionise video analytics for sport.

I played a multitude of sports when I was younger and I’m a former rugby international who now coaches, manages and like any good volunteer has many other hats that I wear in my local rugby club.

I’m one of the first women nominated onto the IRFU Board alongside my former Irish captain. Meetings are my new going out…

I like to learn about new things and then quickly forget how much time and effort studying takes so I put myself through it all again.

Contacting Yvonne Comer

You can connect with Yvonne by email.

By Yvonne Comer

Leadership is an interesting concept and it’s been fascinating over the years to see how people’s thoughts have evolved in what makes a leader and if it can be a learned skill. This is something I’m still not sure about, do you need to have a traumatic event happen to enable vertical development, can you grow naturally with experience or is it like great athletes who have innate ability and talent that can be trained to become exceptional?

I had a Director years ago that was highly critical of my leadership style when I first moved into a management position, as it wasn’t the authoritative style that was his default approach. This style was always one that I struggled with before I knew what a good manager or leader looked like, but his criticism was something I carried with me for a long time that affected my self-belief. Thankfully I stayed true to my own style and remained authentic in my interactions which have brought me to where I am today. More recently as I’ve learned more theory around leadership, I can see how my early experiences of being involved in sport has helped me develop some of the characteristics, traits and philosophy that are now viewed as important in leaders.

Although there’s currently little empirical evidence or research into athletic leadership in general, and even less on female leaders, and how that may manifest later a business context, Transformational Leadership (TL) has been linked to effectiveness in sports settings as it leads to increased motivation, trust, effort and satisfaction.

Transformational leaders inspire and motivate teams to achieve more than originally expected and are seen as agent of social and organisational change. They can engage team members by merging their personal goals with organisational goals by creating a shared vision, coaching, team building, being open minded and developing cultural empathy which leads to better performance. These types of leaders also perform well under dynamic conditions and are effective under challenging conditions. emale athletes are significantly more likely to fall within the high and moderate files of TL than their non-athletic peers.

Companies like EY with their Women. Fast Forward initiative did a 3-year study on the role that sport plays at every stage of a professional woman’s life and have shown that sport is a powerful way to advance women in society and that the foundations laid by sport are critical to career success. Wages of former athletes are about 7% higher than non-athletes, and the EY/espnW global study of senior women executives shows that sport is a positive determinant of leadership performance and achievement and that 94% of C-suite women played sports. Other factors developed from sport which provide an advantage in business are a strong work ethic, determination, team spirit and thriving on competition which have been noted as the biggest factors in women who reach c-suite levels careers.

The UN has also recognised the potential for sport for global development and women’s empowerment, and the International Olympic Committee are pursuing an agenda for Planet 50-50, a gender equal world by 2030 which is enabled by sport.

My experiences of captaining teams from a young age means I was in leadership roles years prior to beginning a career. The same keys to success as a captain of a sports team such as communication, honesty, respect, positivity, emotional control and building the trust and gaining respect of peers, has meant that I was unknowingly cultivating a leadership style that has transferred over to business. The resilience and determination that was required to become an elite athlete and learning to accept failure combined with critical feedback as part of everyday life, has also shaped how I approach my work and has likely fed my entrepreneurial side, as well as my passion to try and improve the sporting environment for those coming after me. The drive to learn more about the sports I played so that I could be successful has translated into a thirst for knowledge in the various industries that I’ve worked in too.

There can be the expectation that women in male dominated environments take on board the competencies that are deemed important by men to become successful. My experience is that it is important to know what these may be but to always remain true to your own values. Values are particularly important as they are triggers for behaviour and can sometimes cause you to act in a way that seems counter to them. This was a revelation for me when I discovered the link. I’ve found it’s more vital to surround yourself with the right people instead be they mentors, mentees, the people you work with and your overall network and to be willing to be uncomfortable and vulnerable so that you can grow.

If we continue to strive to be better and do better and help those around us do the same, we may not always get it right, but we can hopefully become the type of leaders that will inspire others in both business and life.

All About Leadership #48 #cong21


Words matter.  How much do you know about leadership terms.  Try this word puzzle to find them.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Words matter
  2. Think about what they mean
  3. Do you reflect any of them?
  4. See clarity through a word of seeming chaos

About Gillian Berry

I am a qualified clinical nurse specialist. Recent roles include Education, Practice Development Facilitation and Project Management. I am driven by Quality, Patient Safety and Person-Centred Care. I hold a HDip CCU Nursing, PGD Infection Prevention and Control, PGC in Clinical Trials Management (Pharmaceutical Medicine), PGC Medical Affairs (Pharmaceutical Medicine), Cert in Quality and Safety. I founded PerCen Technologies in 2019 in response to challenges that I felt were not addressed in Healthcare. They are supported by the first national HIHI call by the Health Innovation Hub Ireland. It was set up to create person centred innovative solutions to clinical unmet needs. Its aim is to use scientific knowledge and the latest technologies to compliment clinical evidence based practice. My EitHealth journey stared in 2019 where I participated in the Wildcard Hackathon in Amsterdam, followed by the digital health validator in Trinity College and IP training. I am also on the EITHealth expert panel. At the start of the Covid19 Global Pandemic I combined her 25 years healthcare and her post grad education to create a process to break the chain of infection. I co-founded OSVX Open Source Volunteers Extended. Which attracted over 1000 STEM professional volunteers, academic institutions, SME’s and Multi-National’s and facilitated 30 projects with a transfer of knowledge and skills.
I am an active member of EmpowerHer and Network Ireland where I support women peers in business and entrepreneurship. I recently won the regional Power Within Champion for my work on the Covid19 response. I am on the EITHealth Alumni as the Regional Coordinator for UK and Ireland. I aim to facilitate the continued success of the EITHealth Alumni, promote innovation and empower the members to continue their health innovation journey.

Contacting Gillian Berry

You can connect with Gillian on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter or send her an email.

By Gillian Berry

Last year I submitted on leadership entitled Leadership Qualities for a Collaborative Society 3.0

Leadership Qualities for a Collaborative Society 3.0 #58 #cong20

This year I am presenting a challenge in the form of a word search.

leadership word puzzle

  • Find the words in the puzzle.
  • Words can go in any direction.
  • Words can share letters as they cross over each other.

Leadership Word Puzzle

Remote leadership is the future

Remote Leadership is the Future #47 #cong21


Covid has made everything remote including most teamwork, Leaders need to accept that their teams are going to be distributed by default so being able to manage teams remotely will required new skills and a change in culture. To quote T.K. Whittaker – “Culture is the least worst behaviour that Leadership will tolerate”. Leaders need to ask themselves what is the least worst behaviour that the company needs to adapt the new world of remote teamwork.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Remote working is not just a covid restriction but the future of teamwork. All Leaders need to be remote-first in their thinking and communication.
  2. Remote Leadership is a skill to be learnt and is more than just having a video meeting once a week with your team.
  3. Remote teamwork will demand a new culture and user behaviour which will need to be clearly defined using a Remote-First Leadership approach where Inclusion and diversity can be the unexpected prize of a Remote-first leadership approach but this needs to be actively nurtured by leaders.
  4. Don;t fall into this trap of incessant online meeting to check on your remote worker. Less online meetings is one of the key metrics that Remote leaders should use to guide them on their Remote-first journey.

About Sean Brady

Sean Brady has been remote working for 20 years and moved their IT consultancy company (CloudAssist) to the next level in 2017 to a fully remote organisation. This move to fully remote included an absolute ‘no visit’ rule for both clients and partners following the selection as a finalist in the EU Climate Launchpad competition where we pose the question “Why do we need to meet in-person to do business?”. I speak about Climate Change and how Remote Working can significantly change our environment, economy and communities for the better. This lead to my involvement with Grow Remote which is a non-profit promoting the benefits of Remote Working to the Irish rural communities while assisting companies and employees to learn the skills of being a remote-first business.
Sean likes to speak about Climate Change and how Remote Working can significantly change our environment, economy and communities for the better. Sean also provide webinars on how Microsoft Teams is an enabler for Remote Teaming and the importance for Change Management to assist user adoption.

Contacting Sean Brady

You can connect to Sean by email.

Remote leadership is the future

By Sean Brady

Before Covid, Remote-first was a new organisational type that was considered a futurist ideal which only few pioneering companies whole-heartedly embraced. However, since Covid, this is rapidly becoming an attractive model as companies are seeing a major shift in how employees work together either fully remote or within a hybrid work environment. This will have radical change on how buildings are utilised which in turn will see a change in the traditional office hours and office design but, more importantly, on management and leadership style

A lot of companies claim to be Remote-friendly however a remote-first culture treats working remotely as the default way of working and build remote working into the heart of their business; this remote-friendly stance is to make the company seem progressive in order to attract new talent or appease existing employees however this is not a remote-first approach because the leadership approach has not changed. This change is imperative to realise the full potential of their new remote/hybrid workforce which I like to refer to as ‘Remote Leadership’.

In the past, some people may complain about their “leadership are too remote” from the day-to-day business and are not in touch with the employees however the term ‘Remote Leadership’ is the ability to connect with their employees and to nurture a culture even though their colleagues are no longer in the same building at the same time. This new paradigm requires transparent asynchronous communications where everyone can have a voice but is also connected to the drum-beat of the company and how this directly relates to their own work and their team. Leaders need to create a culture where there is virtual bonding and support networks which facilitates remote socialisation of not just your immediate team members and fosters well-being in this new world of remote. Finally, the remote leadership needs to build a culture that creates a level playing field for all which is based on openness and trust while embracing inclusivity and diversity so the company can benefit from remote working in its fullest form.
I believe that by adopting this Remote-first approach, the company can benefit from an unexpected prize of having a more connected, productive, diverse, and inclusive community of remote workers however the behaviour of the leaders will determine how much of a prize that they receive. To quote T.K. Whittaker – “Culture is the least worst behaviour that Leadership will tolerate”. Leaders need to ask themselves what is the least worst behaviour that the company needs to adapt to the new world of remote teamwork and how can they encourage and nudge this into reality.

Remote-first is a journey that a leader should take with clearly defined and measurable business goals because change is hard and this is a fundamental change demands clear leadership. Senior management who are leaders of their own departments must understand how this change will be managed throughout the business. As a leader in a fully remote company since September 2017, this has been a massive transformation, both on how our business operates using technology and people skills necessary to lead a team and build relationship with customers while never meeting them in person. Communication is more than an online meeting but having the openness for the remote worker to feel part of the team and have a voice in how decisions are being made. This is where asynchronous communication platforms are key to both productivity and connectivity of the employee. What is the point of having lots of back-to-back meetings in the name of communication when there is no time and space to create focus time to do the work.

This may sounds counter-intuitive but less online meetings is one of the metrics that we encourage leaders to measure when assisting companies with their Remote-first journey; No-one has ever said to me, “Sean the business needs more meetings and more email”; these simple metrics will guide Remote leaders to establish if the change to a remote-first organisation is being achieved while measuring the increase output from remote-first teams. If your online meetings and email is increasing, then this is a sure sign that the remote-first solutions such as Microsoft Teams is not being deployed to their fullest potential which will undermine the ultimate goal of being a true Remote leader.

Brains, leadership and belief #46 #cong21

William O'Connor


A person is what he makes himself to be, and those who lead and inspire help facilitate this process.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. There are leaders, and there are those who lead.
  2. Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us.
  3. We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to.
  4. We have to value this self-creating freedom that is enjoyed in our time.

About William O'Connor

I am Foundation Professor and Chair, Head of Teaching and Research in Physiology at the University of Limerick Medical School. My research focus includes the emerging field of neuroeducation – the brain science of learning – particularly those factors which allow the human brain to learn optimally. I retain a strong commitment to scientific outreach and communication. This is best illustrated through my popular Inside-the-Brain website, Twitter and Facebook accounts, which report on the latest findings from the world of brain research.

Contacting William O'Connor

You can see William’s work on the Inside-The-Brain website or send him an email.

By William O’Connor

In the summer of 1963, 250,000 people showed up on the mall in Washington D.C. to hear Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Dr King was not the only man in America who was a great orator. Nor was he the only man who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. In fact, some of his ideas were bad. But he had a gift. He did not tell people what needed to change in America. He told people what he believed; and the people who believed what he believed took his cause, made it their own and created structures to get the word out to others such that 250,000 people showed up on the right day and at the right time to hear him speak. These people travelled long distances to Washington for what they themselves believed about America. It was not about black versus white: 25% of the audience was white.

Dr King believed that there were two types of laws in the world: those that are made by a higher authority and those that are made by men; and not until all the laws that are made by men are consistent with the laws that are made by the higher authority will we live in a just world. It just so happens that the civil-rights movement was the perfect thing to help him bring his cause to life. By the way, he gave the “I have a dream” speech, not the “I have a plan” speech. We listen to politicians now with their comprehensive 12-point plans. That is not leadership and it is not inspiring anybody.

Today, there are leaders, and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us. We follow those who lead, not for them but for ourselves. Those who start with a belief have the ability to inspire those around them, and to find others who inspire them.

Is the brain wired for beliefs?
One answer is that the brain is wired to make predictions about what is going to happen next based on what has happened in the past, and in some ways, predictions are like beliefs. For instance, scientists write about scientific predictions as if they are beliefs or explanations that are pre-emptively offered to anticipate and explain the world as we see it.

Knowing that the brain is wired for prediction explains why we find uncertainty so stressful and if it persists, it can actually make us sick. In this way, religious beliefs can reduce the uncertainty of our own experiences by explaining the unexplainable. This also accounts for why those things we now explain through science were once thought of as magic or caused by a deity.

The explanation that the brain is wired for prediction is a general explanation to understanding how we make meaning. The brain of a newborn is not just a miniature version of an adult brain. Its wiring is incomplete. What infants are doing is waiting for a set of wiring instructions from the world. In this way, the people who raised you influenced the wiring of your brain including what to believe and what is meaningful to you. As we mature into adulthood, we have one self-creating freedom in that we can accept or reject these instructions. In this way, a person is what he makes himself to be and those who lead and inspire us help facilitate this process. We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We have to value this self-creating freedom that is enjoyed in our time.

What is a Leader? #45 #cong21


Who are good leaders? are leaders and managers the same person? is the journey to being a great leader taking away from the job of being a good leader.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Look inward
  2. Caffollas have fine chips
  3. McDonalds do great coffee
  4. Dannollas have great chicken

I may have used that Dad Joke before

About Hassan Dabbagh

I asked my son Who are You!

I’m Me, I’m great .

I hope you don’t mind but for the next bit I’ll speak about myself in the third person.

Hassan is an Educational Technologist who has extensive experience working with teachers on an individual and whole school basis. He enables teachers to get the best from the technology they have available to them which allows them to enhance their teaching in new and inventive ways.

He has a keen interest in using technology in conjunction with his Maker skills to create projects utilising electronics, computers and PCBs to build activities for all ages.

Contacting Hassan Dabbagh

You can see Hassan’s work on MakerMeet or email him.

I’ve an irresponsibly large digital footprint,

Reachout say HI FYI, if you googled me, I’m the other one.

By Hassan Dabbagh

What is it to be a leader?

This is a tough question, when I heard the theme of Congregation this year I thought this will be an easy write, I’ll stick on the YouTube watch a few TED talks and BOOM the post will write it self but that wasn’t the case.

Being a leader and leadership means so many different things to so many different people, Jacob Morgan says Leadership is everywhere. Work, Sport and kids playing in the playground all show examples of leadership so I’m going to ask you now…. Please define leadership in not more than 3 lines.  I’ll share the results with Eoin who on the weekend of congregation is our leader, OR is he?

In my leadership research I came across this video, and it’s true, if you want to know something ask a child. STOP thinking APIs and KPIs and IPs and CRMs and think like a child …… the rest will come, in the meantime take a min and watch this you won’t be disappointed .
Another thing that struck me is everyone on the internet is talking about how to be a great leader, is just being a leader not good enough do we all need to be great leaders, it may be the case the journey to being a great leader is taking away from the job of being a good leader.

Why would you become a leader?

This question is another one that caught me by surprise, WHY, it’s suggests that one day be decide to be come leaders, a second part is WHEN do you make this decision, does it happen on the way to work OR before you go to bed OR at lunch, “I’ll have the chicken roll and oh yeah, today I’ll be a leader”.

There’s very few people out there that describe themselves as leaders other than team leaders which was put in replace to remove that old term “Manager” which when you say it suggests ties and meetings and rottas, a team leader is your buddy, a team leader is your go to person a team leader doesn’t wear a tie?

If you’re a leader can you also call yourself a manager? so many questions so little time.

To me there’s no different between being a team leader and being a company leader, the traits are the same. For some reason we go from being a worker to being a team leader then being a dreaded manager but then as you grow in your organisation the two become one, but it’s my opinion that it’s your skills as a good team leader that will keep you in your job rather than the skills of a good manager …. It’s a personal thing but in my eyes I attach more importance the leaders in a company rather than the managers. Leaders will take us to the next stage and good managers will make sure we get there logistically. I was once told that Steve Jobs was a terrible manager but he was a great leader, to be fair his people skills needed a bit a of work but he did put Apple where it is today, however Tim Cook it’s a great manager and logistics person and as yet I have heard what kind of a leader he is, I’m struggling to see his vision

Who are the leaders I most admire?

“Great leaders don’t look-down at research papers and trends, great leaders see around corners”

I don’t know who said that, it’s seems like something I would have heard on a TED talk, but it rings true, I’m thinking of all the great managers and leaders I’ve had over the years and there’s been loads, I’m almost 50 years old and I still don’t know what I want to do, the most successful leaders I’ve had have not known they were leaders, they brought out the best in me by pushing me and by giving me direction and somehow convincing me it was my idea to take this direction that was I vehemently opposed to 15min ago.

Like the rest of this essay this is a very personal thing but I once asked a company boss I had what drives them, a few of us were working late and …Yes I was THAT guy! …. I was curious to know what kept them going but and how they get to where they are now, they said hard-work (i was expecting that one) and loving what I do, loving the job, if you love what you’re doing it will make the difference, they also said that being a manager was just NOT for them, they hired a manager to do all that kind of management-type stuff,

“so you’re here today because you loved what you did and because you got someone else to do the stuff that was necessary but you didn’t have the interest in doing?” I still speak about his reply today

“not quite!, I’ve hired people to do jobs that they loved doing so I could continue to do what I loved doing which is growing this company and oh yeah, I remove obstacles !”

“Obstacles???????????” and this is the bit I’ve forever quoting, he said “I remove obstacles that prevent people from becoming amazing / achieving /reaching targets / enjoying their work, because if they’re happy and successful in their work then I know I can call on them when the time comes, Look at you!, you’re a DJ at the weekends and you work here, you love both jobs but on a Monday you were impossible to work with so I removed Mondays and Fridays for you and put you on a three day week, you’re productivity went up so much that it was like having you here five days a week and lets not forget it’s 1am and you’re here helping us move premises”.

Who do I admire most… I admire the leaders that make a difference.

In summary I don’t know what it is to become a good leader, there’s no time to become a good leader, it’s just something that happens, I don’t know if we all have it in us but what we do have is the ability to love what we do, the rest will follow, “look after the points and the goals will look after themselves” again don’t know who said that but I’m sure it’s look after the pennies and the pounds etc. etc.

Leaders need to be able to see around corners and see what others don’t, if its a fall in the market or a way to enable someone to be their best self. If you’re reading that and you’re a manager then ask yourself honestly, are you a good leader? Only you can answer that and don’t forget to remove the obstacles including your own.

Leadership or Management #44 #cong21


Leadership role belongs to the group. We need to develop more groups against environment crises

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership is a role that is filled by the group; management uses the group.
  2. Capitalism uses managers; it drives inequality and environmental damage.
  3. We need to learn how to develop and select people and groups to utilise leadership better.
  4. Think local, act local; global will find you.

About Conor O'Brien

I am a retired dairy farmer from a tradition of cooperative and local involvement. I am a member of the Board oversight on Mitchelstown Credit Union. Chairperson of Knockmealdown Active that develops outdoor activities there. Also involved with a local group using walks on the Knockmealdowns and the Galtees to build the community. I help to organise an October storytelling workshop on Cape Clear island, sadly not this year. Learning more about the soil every day. Reading. Local and general economic history.

Contacting Conor O'Brien

You can follow Conor on Twitter

By Conor O’Brien

Leadership is about effectiveness; management is about efficiency. The first focuses on prioritising the purpose of the group, the other on the best return for the resources used. Leadership is not an individual asset, but an essential role in a group; management is a valuable skill that can be priced -and discarded if too expensive. The role of leader is filled by a group decision; the role of manager is decided by the owner of the resources. A culture of leadership is core to a cooperative entreprise; a culture of management is core to a capitalist enterprise.

In a cooperative the assets are held in common, in a capitalist entreprise assets are owned by individuals. Garrett Hardin predicted that property held in common would be destroyed by individuals extracting more than their share. He suggested dividing the commons into individual properties to prevent damage. Elinor Ostrom got a Nobel prize for showing otherwise: that all over the world assets which are held in common are managed prudently for the benefit of all participants.

The participants of cooperatives are independent members of their organisations. They each have a voice in selecting the person to fill the role of leader, and expect them to coordinate the work in a way that achieves the purpose of the group while respecting the values of the members.

The reward to the leader will derive from the work involved in the role, and will be decided upon by the group. It will not come from control of the output of the group.

A capitalist entreprise is owned and managed to maximise the return on the capital involved without regard to either the employees or the environment. The income of the manager is dependent on how well they maximise the capital involved. It is a system that has produced our modern world.

Both leadership and management are the factors that make the difference between success and failure in their respective entreprises.
What does also seem to have grown with capitalism and the managerial approach is the growth of multiple layers of management and increasingly disproportionate rewards to the upper layers. It is increasingly being accepted that the drive of capitalism for it’s constant growth is a major factor in this.

We are facing the environmental crises that Garrett Hardin predicted, but it has come from his solution. This was to divide and allocate to private property every possible part of the commons. But capitalism cannot use something that has no value. It cannot sell fresh air, or a clean environment. Nor can it sell the care of children by their parents. Not being able to use such things to grow itself, it ignores and demeans them.

The major changes that are needed to save our environment will not come from the top 10% of capitalism. They are too far removed from it’s immediate effects, too protected with layers of managers to have any common feelings with the 90% of people who will be affected, and have reached their position by ignoring those feelings when they arise.

That is why leadership is so important. We need to build a diversity of organisational structures from the ground up. We have many valuable examples. The Credit Union movement in Ireland has over three million members; there are GAA and other sports organisations in every parish; there are home-grown Tidy Towns and local development organisations in most towns and villages.

What is most missing, in my experience, is autonomous organisations that benefit young people themselves, and where they learn to volunteer and develop the necessary social skills to be independent thinkers and social organisers. The Maker community is showing how this might develop.

Think local, act local; global will find you.

Leader, Know Thyself #43 #cong21

Dennis Deery


Leadership begins with an internal certainty about who you are. Considering your personal leadership philosophy is key to leading well, especially in difficult times.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Know yourself.
  2. Spend time thinking about leadership principles and strategy, not just tactics.
  3. Build resilience.
  4. Followership is as important as leadership.

About Dennis Deery

I work as a change management consultant with businesses, nonprofit organizations and communities throughout the US and internationally. Despite having attained a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University in 2018, I am amazed every day at how much I still have to learn about leadership.

Contacting Dennis Deery

You can connect with Dennis on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.  You can also see his work on DennisDeery and IrishRose websites or send him an email.

By Dennis Deery

We all have opportunities to be leaders – sometimes we choose them, sometimes they choose us. To properly prepare for those times, I think it’s important to spend time considering what your own personal leadership philosophy is. Herewith, my personal leadership philosophy.

I believe we all are called to be leaders at many times in our lives. I will work to recognize the situations in my life when I am called to be a leader. Through knowing myself and my abilities better, I will seek out opportunities to have a positive impact on the people, places and communities around me. I will seek out and nurture relationships that will buttress me with the strength to serve when the call is difficult.

I will strive to be open and knowable to all who wish to have a relationship with me. True effective leadership requires a relationship of caring, trust and faith between leader and followers, along with the knowledge that the leader of today is the follower of tomorrow. I will work to balance my introvert tendencies with the goal of finding a larger circle of friends who will enrich my life. I will do better at boisterously celebrating the accomplishments of people around me, while continuing to demonstrate to them the quiet joy I believe we can all find in solitude. I will trust first, even when it feels easier to not do so.

I will continue my passion to be a lifelong learner driven by intense curiosity about the world. I know that the world we face tomorrow will be different than today, with new challenges and opportunities. Only through a constant willingness to learn and adapt can I participate in creating that new world. I will seek out formal educational opportunities, but I will also intentionally reflect to find the lessons, big and small, in everyday life. I will continue to voraciously consume books, but I will work for greater balance by seeking out friends and teachers who can boost the human dimension of my learning. I will ask for and remain open to the guidance of my peers, knowing that at times they can see me more clearly than I can see myself.

I will be resilient. When faced with adversity and failure, I will strive to remember the many incredible experiences that have created the person I am today. I will embrace the lessons to be learned and move on to new adventures. I will remember the difficulties as events that provided those lessons, but I will not relive them in ways that damage my future. When pushed by circumstance I will bend and change, but not beyond the core that makes me who I am.

I will innovate. Driven by Einstein’s admonition that “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” I will work to always understand all sides of an issue in pursuit of the way forward. I will remember that all members of a community bring a unique perspective to the table, and those perspectives must be integrated to fully understand issues and implement change.

I will have fun. No matter the situation, I will remember the bigger picture, the better world we are all striving for, and I will bring that thought to the task at hand. I will not lead from above or ahead, but from beside. I will make sure that while the work is shared equally, we will also share the joy equally. I will work to bolster the inner spirit of the people around me, to be there as a sounding board and support whenever needed.

I will strive for wholeness in all I do. From work to personal relationships to volunteer activities, I will be the same person, driven by the same values. I will not sacrifice one realm of my existence with the false hope that other realms will make up for it. I will bring all of who I am to any endeavor in which I am involved, and I will spend time on activities which feed all aspects of my being. I will always find time for reflection to ensure that I am centered and balanced.

I have a vision for the world in which I want to live, and I will spend the rest of my life learning the skills, building the relationships and taking the actions that are needed make that vision reality. I look at the world today and I see the ways in which it is better because of the work of those who came before us. From their example, I know that we all have that ability, that duty. I will always encourage people, to help them remember that they can change the world. I will surround myself with people who will remind me, when I forget, that I can change the world. I will share my vision with those around me, through the written and spoken word and in all my actions.

On each day of my journey I will be content, but I will never be complacent.