Revealing bible for business leaders hits bookshelves

22 Sep 2010

A book that reveals the twists, turns and hard decisions necessary to survive in business as experienced by leaders such as O2’s Danuta Gray and Ben Dunne was launched at DCU Business School today.

Dr Martin McAleese officially launched the book Insights into Leadership in Ireland: Insights from Contemporary Leaders in the Public, Private and Voluntary Sectors’, which was written by Dr Aoife McDermott and Prof Patrick Flood of the DCU Business School.

The book contains interviews with 11 noteworthy leaders in varying fields, including Ben Dunne, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, Danuta Gray, Nickey Brennan, Niall Saul, Dr Brian Maurer, John Lonergan, Nuala O’Loan, Kenneth McDonald, Maurice Neligan and Mark Rowe. Each interview explores the personal views, values, beliefs and methods they believe to be crucial in order achieve organisational and social change.

“The book aims to provide insight into the development and practice of effective leadership in the variety of organisations prevalent in our economy,” said authors McDermott and Flood, who expressed their hope that the book will be read by practising, developing and aspiring leaders who “follow their own journeys”.

The authors believe “there are relatively few leadership interviews available for the public and voluntary sectors” and were curious whether values, motivation and dynamics of leadership were likely to be different in contexts seeking social, as well as organisational change.

Dimensions of leadership

The interviews emphasise the core dimensions of leadership, including: hard work behind the scenes, failed attempts at change and hands-on decision-making.

Among the many of the valuable insights in the book are those of entrepreneur Ben Dunne, CEO of the Ben Dunne Fitness Group, who spoke openly about how good leadership hinges on teamwork.

“Anybody can bring the worst out in people, but it takes a lot of talent, effort and patience to bring the best out in people. For me, you can learn a lot about good leadership from sport … People like playing on a team with a good captain: they work towards a clear goal and help each other to score points for the team.”

While Niall Saul, chairman of SymbioHR Consulting and a veteran of business turnarounds, highlights the importance of creating psychological safety for those involved in change and clearing obstacles out of people’s way to allow movement to occur.

“Organisations tend to miss the fact that a lot of people come into work to do a good job. And sometimes the processes that exist in organisations prevent them from doing that. People are quite prepared to listen to hard messages and make quite big changes if they have a context in which to do it”.

McDermott is a lecturer in human resource management at Dublin City University (DCU) Business School and holds a PhD from Trinity College Dublin, and is co-director of the Health Strand of the Learning, Innovation and Knowledge (LInK) Research Centre.

Flood is professor of organisational behaviour at DCU and is head of the HRM-Organisational Psychology Group and a deputy director of the LInK Research Centre.