Dublin’s Pendulum Leadership Conference blends lessons in personal empowerment with leading-edge thinking on planning and analytics to drive business growth. After attending the 2018 edition, there were four key insights that really stayed with me.

Love your people

The first memorable message was from headline speaker Richard Branson. The outstanding personal quality that comes through from his book, Losing My Virginity, is his perseverance. He just never gave up on any idea he believed in. This was obvious from his first venture at 16, and he has shown it time and again.

Equally, he stands by his people. His standout message for company heads and entrepreneurs was to ensure that everyone in their organisations feels empowered.

So, once a Virgin venture reaches 100 employees, he splits it into two and appoints a managing director to lead each. This avoids top-heavy layers of management, helps people to feel important and involved and allows leaders to be closely tuned to the people on the front line.

Like the feeling

I have long admired psychologist, Dr Martyn Newman, who has taken the tenets of emotional intelligence pioneered by Daniel Goleman and made them his own.

His clarity on identifying the skill sets that will best serve you in fulfilling your personal potential and business goals made for compelling listening.

Backed by consistent evidence from behavioural science studies, he also knows that valuing and empowering people in your organisation is the biggest asset a leader can have.

“People will work well for you in direct proportion to how much they like you. And they will like you in direct proportion to how you make them feel.”

Everyday greatness

If Martyn Newman’s Emotional Intelligence Sports Inventory, designed to measure how EQ supports elite performance, was applied to his co-speaker, ex-Irish international rugby captain Paul O’Connell, he’d top the charts.

Paul claims he still hasn’t found the same sense of purpose off the pitch that he had as a rugby player. But the core qualities that held him at the top in his sporting career will always support him, whatever path he chooses.

Sports psychologist Bob Rotella, the former mental coach to golfing superstar Padraig Harrington, drew comparisons between CEOs and great sporting achievers like Paul.

He says that to separate yourself from good to great means being an everyday person. It means showing up every day in a great mindset, prepared to practice your skills without fail, even when it’s hard. It means loving and embracing a challenge, unstoppable and unflappable.

The power of passion

Baroness Michelle Mone OBE stands out more than most. Her down-to-earth, open and sincere personal brand immediately reels listeners in.

She is a master of looking forward positively and knows that passion for what you do is essential to keep your drive alive. It was heartening to hear her gratitude to Ireland’s Margaret Heffernan of Dunnes Stores, one of the first to stock her Ultimo lingerie line.

Bringing it home

I left Pendulum with a deeper understanding of just how personal motivations can directly affect professional performance.

For me, it brought home the twin lessons: follow what you’re passionate about, and, along the way, look for ways to help everyone you engage with, anywhere, feel good.

Certainly, both are powerful, positive thoughts for the year ahead, for business, and for life.

Mark O'Donnell

Mark is a Partner at Odgers Berndtson in Ireland. He specialises in high-level executive searches and appointments of senior management appointments from Head of Function to Board level across a r...

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