As part of our Conversations with Leaders series, Paul Rellis of Viatel Technology Group recalled examples of good and not-so-good leaders.

“If I look back on the leaders I’ve worked with over the years, I’m always drawn to two people that were my boss over the years that were terrible leaders,” Paul Rellis, CEO of Viatel Technology Group, recently told Silicon Republic’s Ann O’Dea.

Rellis joined O’Dea for a fireside chat about all things leadership. Today, he manages a team of around 300 staff across Ireland, and he spoke about his experience leading and growing Viatel during the pandemic. He also reflected on his time working for companies including Microsoft and Coca-Cola.

When O’Dea asked him about the qualities he admires in a leader, Rellis immediately recalled his worst bosses – who, he said, pushed him towards good leaders. In many ways, these negative experiences functioned as cautionary tales.

“There’s good and bad in every organisation. The good leaders gave me the confidence that I could deliver more and do more than I thought I could. They showed empathy, they showed understanding, they listened, had to give me some tough medicine of course along the way and helped me a lot.

“By inference, you can assume that the bad leaders did the opposite of all those things.”


Words by Blathnaid O’Dea