Leading Edge

To me, leadership is about creating an open, engaging environment where people have a real opportunity to realise their full potential in pursuit of the organisation’s purpose and goals, while having some fun along the way! It is about shaping a vision and roadmap for the future, winning buy-in, galvanising performance and ultimately removing as many roadblocks to success as possible. Good leadership also sets the tone for the organisation in terms of living the values and, in our case, promoting a culture of respect, can-do and commitment to succeeding.

As in all aspects of life, I think leaders grow over time and quite frankly, it is a continual learning experience. Most often that journey starts with a commitment to do our job well and deliver and grow functionally, whether in finance, operations, commercial, research. Then comes the day we are given some people responsibility and realise, almost like parenthood, that we have no defined playbook. From there, it is a journey of learning and adapting. I’ve learnt the importance of taking time to engage and listen to the team, hear their perspectives, experiences, issues, challenges – and then execute. Communication is vital and I think it is hard to overestimate the importance of keeping in touch with all stakeholders, staff, customers and investors. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role is the time I get to visit various parts of the business, to physically meet our teams on the ground, reinforce our vision and strategy and learn from them about our markets, customers, innovations. I also think that adaptability is hugely important in today’s


“DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF” Siobhán Talbot, managing director, Glanbia Siobhán Talbot business world – change and disruption are constant and we’re all expected to be more creative and flexible in coming up with ways to overcome unexpected challenges. Adaptability is something that is gained through experience. Whether in the field of business, politics, sport or life in general, I admire leaders who are authentic, grounded and inclusive. I think having a clear vision and communicating it to your team is hugely valuable. Take time to describe what the future looks like and feels like and then share that vision with your teams. It is also important to recognise and anticipate the challenges and to build team resilience. A compelling vision that gets your people excited and aligned will create huge energy and focus.

An alternative career would probably have been teaching! My mother was a teacher and when I started the BComm at UCD it was really with secondary school teaching in mind as a career option. College of course gives you a broad sense of available options and I became interested in accounting. After graduating, I joined what was then Craig Gardner, now PwC, and trained and qualified with them, and the rest is history! My leadership habit: “Don’t sweat the small stuff” Looking back on my younger self, I would probably focus even more on learning from both successes and failures and not sweat the small stuff! My leadership “bible”: Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? by Professor Gareth Jones and Robert Goffee. The book challenges the reader to focus on knowing your personal values and purpose and it emphasises the importance of being authentic and true to yourself in your leadership style. It resonated with me, as I think we all connect more readily with real, grounded people living real lives, rather than some manicured career narrative. Be yourself but be your best self.