Author: LEAP Team

LEAP are leadership and management consultants based in Galway, Ireland. They have been working with high performers in companies nationally and internationally since 2000. This combined with their extensive understanding as to how to greatly enhance one’s personal effectiveness, has ideally positioned LEAP to develop and successfully deploy the “Time To Flourish” programme. We are excited to be able to provide a fully online Time To Flourish programme and are looking forward to getting your feedback on how the programme has worked for you.

5 Key Factors in Personal Development for Managing Directors

In the business world, managing directors face a variety of challenges when trying to develop their companies into successful and profitable enterprises. As business leaders they need to arm themselves with a set of skills and traits that will allow them to maximize their own potential and the potential of their staff, and thereby maximize profits. But how do successful business leaders get investors, employees and consumers to trust their vision and ideas? The answer is through effective leadership and at the heart of that lies the concept of personal development. There are no magic formulas for success but as LEAP’s John Raftery explains, there are 5 key factors in personal development for managing directors that can influence your company’s bottom line.

1. Self-Awareness

“The key factor that dictates success in any endeavour, whether it’s in a business, a family, social settings or in a community, is emotional intelligence. The concept has been around for years, but essentially the most successful people in all walks of life are people who have high levels of emotional intelligence. What defines emotional intelligence more than anything else is self-awareness. There are lots of techniques to develop it such as psychometric tests and personality testing, but essentially what you need to do is devote a lot of time to reflecting on your behaviours, your attitudes and emotional responses to situations. It’s about questioning yourself and trying to reflect as much as possible in order to build up self-awareness. The reason why self-awareness is fundamental to emotional intelligence is because without it you won’t know what needs to change, or what issues need to be addressed in the way you behave. Self-awareness is the foundation to good personal development and making an impact on the world around us. Without it we are lost and it’s a never ending quest. We can spend our whole lives developing and honing self-awareness.”

2. Motivation

“There are two types of motivation; intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. By intrinsic motivation I mean you are motivated internally, by something you want to achieve or gain for yourself in order to find personal fulfilment. Extrinsic motivation is where you are motivated by external factors such as status, money or power. Both internal and external motivation can be quite strong and lead you to achieving huge success, but ultimately intrinsic motivation is the stronger of the two because that always remains with you. And linking that back to self-awareness; the more awareness you have, the more you can tap into your source of motivation to drive you on.”

3. Self- Efficacy

“The third element is one of the more important ones. Self-efficacy is the ability to control your responses and your emotions without being stoic or frigid in your responses. In other words you give the appropriate response in appropriate situations. You can decide what your response is in a particular situation and you can control your behaviours. That includes behaviours relating to alcohol, exercise or diet and more importantly having control over your emotional responses. It means accepting you are in control of your emotional responses.”

4. Empathy

“The fourth element is the one that is most lacking in the world today. Essentially empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, to see things from their point of view. All conflict comes from a lack of empathy, from major conflicts to minor ones. People who are psychopathic have no empathy at all so they can’t feel another person’s pain. They can’t relate to other people. People with high levels of empathy can tune into other people and read situations better. They are better at reading the emotional responses of the people they’re trying to manage, or motivate or develop or relate to in some way. They are much better listeners than talkers, and by listening more you learn a lot more. There’s an old truism that God gave us two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that proportion. Listen twice as much as you speak. Allow others to speak without interrupting. Often when we are in conversation we are thinking about what we are going to say next rather than listening to what others are actually saying, and being inquisitive about what others are saying to us.”

5. Social Dexterity

“The last thing is what I call social dexterity which, at its most basic level, means interacting with other people. Basic things like shaking people’s hands, how you look them in the eye, and what your body language says about you. How confident are you in certain situations? How assertive are you? How do you relate to others in your network? How do you communicate with people? Can you actually lead teams or teams of teams? Can you lead an organisation? Can you relate to and manage large numbers of people? Social dexterity is something we try to develop in our children; we try to make them socially comfortable. We try to get them to relate to their peers, to get them to develop leadership skills through sport and so on. Ultimately this is the foundation that should lead people to greater levels of social dexterity further down the line. It’s one of the key components of leadership. I believe if an individual can develop the five key areas of self-awareness, understanding motivations, develop high levels of self-efficacy and empathy, and are comfortable and assertive in terms of social dexterity, then you’re looking  at an individual that can have a great  deal of influence on the people they come into contact with.”


Is Strategic Planning a luxury in today’s business conditions?

Maureen Grealish director at LEAP

Strategic Planning

Strategic Plans normally addresses the business, and its requirements for periods of between 3 and 5 years. Given the recent turbulent trading conditions, many business management teams are reluctant to engage in a detailed, time-consuming planning exercise that many see as being out of line with reality and largely an academic exercise.

A Business Plan, in the traditional format, will still be required for businesses raising finance and/or where a major strategic decision needs to be made e.g. an acquisition or the purchasing of equipment. In a business that is not engaged in such strategic decisions, business strategy should not be reduced to short-term, fire-fighting decisions that are not aligned to any overarching plan.

The alternative is a Strategic Action Plan covering periods of 12-18 months.

The importance of goal setting is well covered in a litany of business management books. The reason for this is that goal setting WORKS! We all know that we have a goal, business or personal, and if we can really get motivated by it, then we can achieve great things. Clearly defining the goal, and having a picture in our head of what things will look like when the goal is achieved, helps us through the difficult days. Just talk to anyone that focused on losing a stone in weight so that they can fit into that special outfit, and got there, and you will know what I mean.

We can do the same for our business. The key is to set a goal, make it something we REALLY want to achieve, and keep focused on it.

There are two key elements in keeping focused on the goal. The first is to share the goal with those around us – our management team, employees, and anyone else that has a part to play in achieving the goal. The second is to put Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place to help us monitor our progression towards the goal.

It also helps if we break down the goal into its component parts i.e. objectives.

An objective is the most important part of the Strategic Action Plan. An objective is a clearly stated, measureable target of how to achieve the goal. Key Performance Indicators help us define how we are doing in achieving each objective. A business should have objectives around business elements such as

–          Operational Costs

–          Staff Turnover

–          Client Retention

–          New Sales

–          Quality

–          Service Levels

–          Communication

The difference between a ‘good’ objective and a ‘bad’ objective is in how the objective is defined i.e. an objective to ‘Contain Support Costs’ is an example of a bad objective. An objective to ‘Receive ISO certification by next March’ is an example of a good objective. The more specific the objective is, the better it is.

Once the objectives have been agreed, plans can be developed to achieve those targets. These can then be used to motivate employees and enable the business to measure their progress towards the goal. One thing is true – businesses that can clearly define, articulate, and execute their goals are well positioned to compete and succeed.

So – do you have a goal?

Maureen Grealish

Sometimes Leadership Skills Means Knowing When To Say No

Maureen Grealish director at LEAPIn the highly competitive world of business, CEO’s require a variety of leadership skills and qualities. Some are obvious and you’ve probably heard them mentioned many times before – a clear vision, the ability to develop achievable business goals, a good communicator, excellent motivator, tenacious, innovative, a risk taker. But self -awareness is probably the greatest quality that any CEO can possess.

One way that this pays off is in the decision making process. For example, if a company is in the early stages of development, the CEO and senior managers must be aware of the capacity of their workforce and their operations. They need to be conscious of the fact that with a limited number of staff they can only produce so much output at any given time.

Know Your Limitations

It’s vital therefore that every business owner, particularly in the start-up phase, understands what the limitations of their business operations are. How many units of product can they realistically produce and deliver to customers per day, per week, per month? Setting Key Performance Indicators is a crucial part of this process.

The Right Response?

But what happens when a CEO gets approached by a new client with a potentially lucrative contract that is bigger than anything they’ve taken on before? It may be tempting for an inexperienced business owner to say yes to everything in the mistaken belief that he should never pass up the opportunity to do business. But is this the right response? What if the opportunity is simply beyond the scope of the business owner and he fails to deliver the contracted amount of product on time? How damaging can that be?

The answer will vary from company to company and the type of business you’re in. Some companies may fail to deliver on a contract and still survive. This may occur simply because the failure to deliver was not publicised widely across media channels. Others may not be so lucky and find themselves featuring in newspaper and internet articles for all the wrong reasons. CEO’s who fail to deliver may find the damage is irreparable and struggle to regain the trust of clients.

The most recent case of this was the failure of the G4S boss Nick Buckles to deliver the necessary security personnel for London 2012 Olympics. By his own admission at the subsequent inquiry in London, he simply couldn’t deliver because he had bitten off more than he could chew; a mistake that could cost G4S between £30 – £50 million pounds.

Maureen Grealish

“As a business advisor with LEAP I have worked with CEO’s in the small to medium sized sector for many years. I understand the temptation to accept all contracts but I also understand that CEO’s need to know when to say no. It is always tempting to accept the offer of work at any stage of business but particularly as a start-up, but if the contract is beyond the capacity, and more important the capability of the business, then they should say no.”

Sometimes Leadership Means Knowing When To Say No: Saying No As Part Of Your Brand Management

“It is true that a business needs to stretch itself and always try to achieve more than may seem possible, but it is important to focus on the type of business that brings out the best in your business, and your people. Saying yes, will normally be for cash-flow reasons, but you need to decide if the contract fits with your business, its strengths and with your future plans. The benefits of saying no are that you can focus your time and limited resources on building your business in line with its strengths and longer term goals. Another benefit is that you are more likely to meet and exceed customer’s expectations which is important at any stage of business, but especially when you are trying to build a reputation as a new business.”


What is Leadership?

What is Leadership?

What builds a successful business? Is it luck? Many would doubt that and certainly asking an investor to support your initiative and describing it as a “lucky opportunity” won’t help you. Let’s not build our business on luck. At least not the traditional definition of luck.

Successful leaders and managers know that luck is really about persistence, practice and perspective. How many times have you heard “it took me 20 years to become an overnight success” (persistence)? How about “the more I practice the luckier I get” (practice)? And how about “the harder I look the more I find” (perspective)?

So luck is hard work. Build your success on the right definition of luck: persistence, practice and perspective.

How can you benefit from a LEAP management course?

Managers have the responsibility of translating business goals into tangible results which can only be
achieved through:
  • Ensuring they take full responsibility for goals and overcoming challenges to achieving those goals
  • Recognising how to apply best management practices to the specific requirements of their company
  • Drawing out optimum performances from their teams
  • Adopting the attitude and behaviours of high performing managers

How can you benefit from a  LEAP leadership course?

Our leadership programme has two main objectives:

  • Enable the participants to realise their potential as effective leaders in their company.
  • Ensure that they can define how best to position and structure the company so that it can sustain and develop itself independent of the leader.



Leadership Styles – the motivation factor

Leadership Style The Motivation FactorManagers often struggle as they think about how to motivate employees. Part of demonstrating leadership – leadership styles – means finding that motivation factor. In the past when money was available team nights out were organised or the Christmas Party and Summer bar-b-q were pencilled into the calendar. The manager would encourage all to participate declaring “it’ll be fun” to which some smiled while internally they groaned. The cost of such events didn’t always yield the desired results. Managers ignored or failed to remember that motivation isn’t about semi annual or annual events. Instead it’s an on-going requirement that needs attention. Ultimately it’s about understanding employees as individuals, observing their behaviours, recognising what drives them and then providing opportunities to tap into those drivers. It’s not a difficult process, just one that requires attention and the desire to make it both happen and work for the business and your employee.

So here’s how it works:

Step 1: Observation

Observe how your employee approaches work and see if you notice a pattern. Note the time your employee flies through a job or is in good humour. Identify patterns that emerge; maybe the person enjoys a challenge or always finds ways to make improvements or maybe your employee enjoys interacting with external customers. Whatever the employee is doing well is linked to what motivates them. Your job is to find out what that is which can only be done through deliberate observation.

Step 2: Talk to the Employee

Follow up your observations with a discussion with the employee. This doesn’t have to be a formal appraisal meeting. Find the time and space to have a conversation. Comment on the positive observations and ask them about those observations: what did they enjoy about the work? Would they like to do more of that type of work if the opportunity arises? What other aspects of their role do they enjoy? Don’t make any commitment to the employee at this time. This is just a conversation to understand the employee and to demonstrate to the employee that you are noting their positive contributions.

Step 3: Step Back and Find the Opportunities

Take time to find ways to use the strengths the employee demonstrated. Are there projects to which the employee could be assigned? Is there a body of work that has been ignored that would be interesting for this individual? Could this individual assist another area of the business or another team? Be creative and don’t limit yourself to what you’ve always done or how a department is defined. Broaden your thinking. Remember, if you don’t find opportunities your employee will find opportunities – probably outside your business or indeed with your competitor.

Step 4: Get Things Rolling

Plan your course of action and involve your employee. Explain why you are taking this course of action. Praise the employee and let them know you will continue to observe what they are doing and encourage them to find further opportunities to apply their strengths. Let them know this is not the finishing point but a process that will continue as the business continues to hold its own or indeed grow.

This process is never ending so once applied it needs to be maintained. This approach ensures you encourage employees to be intrinsically motivated and not reliant on external (and often monetary) rewards.

Tricia Cunningham.

The Challenge of Leadership

Why is it that some weeks you are a focused, energetic leader and other weeks you feel like you are swimming through mud? Maybe it is because you are much more effective and energised when you are doing things that play to your personal strengths, and you are much less effective when you are doing things that are NOT playing to your personal strengths.The Challenge of Leadership

So, what do you do?

  1.  Keep reminding yourself that you are a leader and that you have a responsibility towards yourself and others.
  2. Define your strengths and identify how you can best align your role as leader to those strengths
  3. Recognise when you have some tasks to do that are not aligned to your personal strengths
  4. Ask yourself whether those tasks can be delegated to others – if they can, then delegate them (ideally to someone who has strengths in that area)
  5. If you, and only you, can do the specific tasks then do them as quickly as possible and then get back to what you do best. Your heart and your business will thank you for it!

Leadership is about spending as much time as possible being focused, energised and therefore far more effective and as little time as possible swimming through mud (unless you like to de-stress by doing some bog swimming!)

The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born – Warren Bennis.

And remember – we don’t get it perfect all of the time. It is the endeavour….the starting afresh over and over…that eventually creates the habit of leadership….and THAT is the true prize.

Maureen Grealish

New Leadership for the New Economy

“Leaders are people who are able to express themselves fully. By this I mean that they know who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to deploy their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. They also know what they want, why they want it, and how to communicate what they want to others in order to gain their cooperation and support.

Finally they know how to achieve their goals. The key to full self-expression is understanding one’s self and the world, and the key to understanding is learning – from one’s life and experience.

Leaders have no interest in proving themselves, but an abiding interest in expressing themselves. The difference is crucial, for it’s the difference between being driven, as too many people are today, and leading, as too few people do.”

Warren Bennis.

John_Raftery__2_These words by Warren Bennis serve as a timely reminder to each of us now that the tide of the economic boom has gone out. As we look around we see the hollowness of much of the business leadership over the last number of years. There is a lot of ducking and diving, a failure to accept responsibility and questions about what success really means in these changing times.

Look at the description of leadership by Bennis again and ask yourself where would we start to develop true leadership in Irish business?

Much has been written and analysed regarding leadership but at the root of true leadership is self-awareness. Knowing your strengths and weakness’ is vital. The ability to express yourself fully doesn’t just mean being a good communicator. It means expressing yourself through your actions. It is when our actions are fully aligned with our values that we use that great Irish description of someone as being “genuine”

Another word that has gone out of fashion during the boom is the word “vocation”. I know it conjures up images from dreary priest ridden Ireland but think about the word in a new light. I believe that the definition of the word Vocation can be found at the point where your strengths and the needs of the community intersect.

Think about it. We are all on a quest to find what we are good at, how we can use our creativity, ingenuity to make a living doing what we love. Real success is getting paid to do something you love to do and that is your true vocation.

LEAP Consultants have developed a unique approach to finding your true purpose. Firstly you must develop self-awareness. This is fundamental in order to avoid chasing things that will not bring fulfilment. Remember the phrase “What you are aware of you can control, what you are unaware of, controls you.”

You must create a vision that is inspiring and will motivate you to crash through the fears and doubts that keep us back. Finally you must commit to taking action

These steps form the basis for all of the LEAP  Leadership and Management programmes, which brings together the latest thinking in psychology, business leadership, executive coaching and management practices.

Mahatma Gandhi had a good phrase that captures the essence of all LEAP programmes,

“Become the change you want to see in the world.”

John Raftery



Networking – a luxury or a necessary evil?

Networking - a luxury or a necessary evil?

The word ‘Networking’ sends a shiver down many a business person’s spine. We conjure up images of walking into a room, on your own, to be greeted by huddled groups in deep conversation. The courage required to approach a group, particularly if you don’t know anyone, can dissuade even the most confident of people. So, all too often we dismiss opportunities for networking because it is “too difficult”, or “it is just a talking shop”.

However, my interest and energy in networking has been re-awakened as a result of attending some truly excellent events over the past few months.

Participating in the Enterprise Ireland Going for Growth Programme has been a real eye opener for me. The opportunity to discuss my business with other business leaders, and with a lead entrepreneur (Monica Flood – Thank you), a proven success in business in her own right was an opportunity not to be missed. The annual Forums are an opportunity to learn from some of the leading women entrepreneurs in Ireland (Norah Casey, Anne Herathy amongst others) and an opportunity to network. The networking conducted through this Programme has been highly effective as all the businesses tend to be at a similar stage, and are all open to new ideas.

The Irish Executives Summit held in Galway a few months ago was mind-blowing, the standard of the speakers (including our own Mike Gaffney), the use of technology and the positivity evident that day was a real turning point for many people. For us in LEAP, the Summit was the conduit for us reviewing and updating the presentations we use with clients and for speaking events. It also introduced us to a dynamic and energetic group of business people who together will achieve great things by creating business opportunities together.

The recent MeetWest event organised by the Chambers of Commerce (and other agencies) in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo was another great event. The concept of networking was taken to another level through the use of a “structured, pre-arranged networking meeting” schedule which allowed for 10 meetings during Day 2 of the event. To experience the level of conversation, to see the exchange of business cards, and to hear the arrangement of follow-up meetings was inspiring and comforting – business is being done and will continue to be done, despite the economic situation.

In summary, there currently exists an appetite and an energy for business leaders to access very high quality opportunities for networking.

These opportunities should be grabbed with both hands as they

  • Provide the environment to make new, valuable contacts
  • Provide  the opportunity for self and business improvement
  • Generate the positive energy that is a welcome break from the constant negativity that is now the norm.

Happy networking!

Maureen Grealish

The Deliberate Leader

Mike Gaffney The Deliberate Leader_leadership developmentLeadership Development

The Deliberate Leader blog has been written to distil the insights I have uncovered in working with entrepreneurs and company owners throughout Ireland. The first insight is to dispel the myth that leaders are born, not made. The skills of leadership are like any skill-set, If you work at it correctly and diligently you can deliberately, step by step, become an effective leader. It takes time and patience, but, most of all, it requires a willingness to observe yourself in thought and action, with a view to actively learning how to improve your behaviours and capabilities.

The second insight, is to be aware of the human’s obsession with certainty. This desire for certainty permeates multiple facets of our existence, from religious/spiritual beliefs, to personal wellbeing, to how to best manage our careers. Playing it safe, ensures survival but not excellence. Beware of certainty – certainty can lead to stagnation and a resistance to change; to preserving with the status quo. Uncertainty maintains the need to keep going; learning and acquiring new ideas and behaviours to successfully negotiate new challenges, which are coming at us constantly.

The Deliberate Leader is succinct and hopefully to the point, because entrepreneurs typically have a low attention span and look for ideas that they can immediately apply as they quickly move on to the next challenge or opportunity. As our immediate history in Ireland is teaching us, there is a significant requirement for both an understanding of leadership and development of leaders if our country is going to grow and to enable each of us to better realise our individual and collective potential.

The Deliberate Leader Growth Dynamic

The Leader’s Growth Dynamic is reflected in the following bullet points which are interlocked, and demonstrate that as you make movement in one area, you are correspondingly bringing positive movement to the other two areas of focus.

  • Have a clear sense of purpose
  • Increase your self awareness
  • Making the journey

The  bullet points below simplify what you as Leader need to focus on:

  • Become more Aware of Yourself
  • Develop and hone your Sense of Purpose; give it the space to grow – Trust yourself
  • Start now – today; make a step that propels you on your journey to becoming an effective Leader

The above three areas overlap and support each other. The human mind likes to put things into discrete categories. This is contrary to the multi-facetted challenge of being an effective Leader. Your level of Self-Awareness is intertwined and overlaps with your Sense of Purpose and with having the discipline to make your Leadership Journey. The interfaces between the three constituent parts merge, which strengthens the overall impact of the three discrete areas and keeps the three cogs moving smoothly, in unison.

For example, the greater your self-awareness as to what you excel at, the more you can align it with and compliment your sense of purpose; which as you make the journey and develop the habits you need to deliver on your sense of purpose – those habits will complement and enhance your level of Self-Awareness.

How To Make An Internship Programme Work

There is a lot of negative noise out there at the moment regarding JobBridge and work placement programmes in general, which has a bad reputation in the media. This is understandable as they are primarily passive leaving them open to abuse by companies. Potential participants are naturally adverse to being exploited adding further insult to their current situation. So how to make an internship programme work? There is a solution – and it is simple. For an internship programme to work it needs to be:

• Active
• Focused
• Demonstrably Supportive
• Deliver Results – Create Jobs

JobBridge, although well intentioned is falling short on each of the above. Let’s look at the most effective internship scenario:

1. A company with a resource need – preferably a specific project
2. A person with the attitude to make the most of the internship
3. A possible job if the internee delivers sufficient value to the host company and the position is rewarding for the individual

Why am I so confident that the above approach works. It is because it already has been tried and tested in Ireland and has delivered compelling results. The Irish Centre for Business Excellence has run a hugely successful internship programme – Begin AgainTM in 2010 and 2011. Over 700 internships were created and over half of the participants have secured jobs which is an un-precedented success. The success of Begin AgainTM is due to the integrated approach:

• Rigorous matching of individual to the right placement
• Focused training – building self-esteem and the skill set to secure a job in Ireland
• Dedicated mentor support to each participant
• Internship’s of value to the company and the participant

If this is our ideal scenario, let’s build our internship programme around creating this scenario as frequently as possible:

Participants and Companies

Key Requirement Participant Company Country
Active – Support participant to find the best
fit internship
– Provide matching expertise
– Vet company’s intent
– Define internship –
project- Business mentors liaise with companies
– Every applicant actively supported in
getting an internship- Build self esteem of
Focused Dedicated training to build confidence, self esteem and skills to get back to work Clarify company requirementsFind the most suitable candidateProvide alternatives A collaborative programme between companies, participants and supportive entity
Demonstrably Supportive Individual mentor support for each participant to ensure internship is working for the internee Mentormonitor internees progress, make correction as required – with company agreement Right person
Right company
Right project
Right result – Job
Delivering Results – Secure Jobs (25)
– Develop individual self esteem and confidence
– Expenses Payment provided by the
company (and retention
of all benefits)
-Tangible improvements
to company
performance- Opportunity for
individual to secure job based on performance
Report success:
– Jobs created
– Other labour activation
solutions, eg: Further
Education, Start Your
Own Business















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