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            [post_content] => Have you noticed that so many of the great managers – and leaders – are really odd?

Steve JobsThis can be seen not only in business with enigmatic leaders like Apple's Steve Jobs (described by Bill Gates as "fundamentally odd", but also in some of the more eccentric characters we see in sport - take for example football managers like José Mourinho, Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough.

While there are indeed managers like Manchester United's David Moyes, who are ..  average, reasonable, uninspired: just the sort of manager that might make the grade on paper in a recruitment process, the great leadership is seen from managers like Mourinho and Ferguson, neither of whom would have stood much chance of making it through to the interview stage! They weren't even great football players!

Odd, isn’t it?

But is it enough just to be odd? Unlikely... Perhaps there is good odd (Mourinho) and bad odd (take your pick of the world’s despots).

In my experience working with organisations, I have found that the great leaders, despite their seeming oddness, have at least 3 things in common:

1. They are clever – especially with people. They know whose buttons to press – and when! Who to kick and who to hug! They know the game – they know their business inside out.

2. They have more than just one style – they hold their principles constant but adapt their own style to the situation in hand. Mourinho famously let his kit man give the motivational speech to his players last week (in indecipherable “Scottish”, too!). Ferguson could tell his Beckhams from his Ronaldos, his Van Persies from his Rooneys - and found the right words for each.

3. They reach for the stars, and hold themselves – not just their staff – to the highe

st standards.  They are unrelenting in their quest for success. Their self-belief is unshakable. Failures are used as opportunities to learn. Success is inevitable – the only question is when.

So perhaps there is something to be learned from seeing past what might seem like strange personalities and assessing our potential leaders instead for intelligence, a flexibility in style and an unshakable self-belief and ambition.  It may be that these characteristics are more important to success as a leader that meeting any definition of "normal".

Dermot Duff is Programme Director of the ManagementWorks IMI Diploma in Management and the ManagementWorks IMI Diploma in Strategy & Innovation - programmes specifically aimed at developing management and strategic capability in SMEs.  His expertise is in the area of SMEs, project management, manufacturing and supply chain management and he is the author of Managing Professionals and Other Smart People. His work focuses on developing practical implementable solutions founded on sound theory.  

If you are interested in honing your skills as a leader in your organisation speak to us about the IMI Diploma in Leadership starting this Spring. The programme is aimed at dramatically enhancing leadership skills, awareness, impact and judgement. To know more check out the brochure or watch this clip.


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Education isn't just about exams and assignments. Sometimes learning about yourself can be the challenge, as David Beausang, Head of Sales and Marketing at CoreHR, found out on the IMI Senior Executive Programme

What is your career background?

I'm delighted to have worked since 2013 with the great team at CoreHR. We help hundreds of thousands of employees all over the UK and Ireland to work more efficiently, from hiring to retiring, using smarter HR  and Payroll technology. We’re an Irish based company that is making considerable global progress. I'm currently their Head of Sales and Marketing, having previously worked in sales, consultancy, outsourcing as well as working overseas in the Middle East and Australia with similarly successful companies such as Slainte Healthcare.

Why did you choose the Senior Executive programme ?

There were a lot of reasons but the most important one was for me to be able to see the gaps that I didn't even know were there that were preventing me from being the best colleague, manager, leader and person that I could be. I know that sounds a bit starry-eyed but I felt that I would benefit from being tested in a reputable executive environment and identify the unknown unknowns which would enable me to progress further in my career.

What were the highlights?

If I was to chose one, it would be the 360 and the coach that I was assigned to JP McIvor. I learnt an incredible amount from him which I put to immediate use (Thanks for the free advice JP!). Apart from that it would be a long list; the speakers, the knowledge sharing and transfer with the other participants, the lunches (and obviously the desserts!). I’d recommend to anyone reading this to have a look at who the guest speakers are and do a bit of research about them. Imagine having the opportunity to learn from them in a small group environment?

learn about yourself

What were the challenges?

I initially found that the lack of an academic test or end-of-course assessment to be a challenge and then I realised, mid-course, that the challenge was actually myself. I was the test and the assessment. The 360 exercise really brought that home to me and I would rate that as the biggest challenge and also to have been the biggest subsequent learning experience which has stood to me.

What impact has the course had on your career?

I directly attribute the promotion that I was lucky enough to have been awarded in work, from Head of Partnerships to Head of Sales and Marketing, to the course and frankly, what I have learnt has helped me every day since.

What impact has the course had on your organisation?

CoreHR has an active learning culture and a number of my colleagues are attending courses at the IMI over the coming months; along with a staff development programme which operates here. In relation to the impact of the course on my colleagues, you’d have to ask them but they did get me a cake for my birthday recently so it didn’t do any lasting damage!

What is your advice to people planning further study?

Have a look at your lifestyle and see what would fit you the best. Really assess your needs to see what you need and find a course that fits. Sometimes a retune can be more effective than a new engine! For more information on the Senior Executive Programme click here or speak to one of our programme advisors on or 1800 22 33 88.  [post_title] => A Higher State of Learning [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => higher-state-learning [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:50:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:50:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 4751 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2012-06-18 09:55:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-06-18 09:55:21 [post_content] => Applications are now being invited from indigenous Irish companies from all industries for the 2013 Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards Programme, which IMI has been involved with since the programme was launched in Ireland five years ago. Twenty companies which demonstrate superior business performance will be recognised at the end of the Best Managed Companies process in March 2013, with three companies specifically identified for high quality submissions in the areas of strategy, capability and commitment, which are the cornerstones of the Best Managed Company criteria. The closing date for entries is 24 August 2012. These awards recognise quality companies across the island of Ireland that have demonstrated superior business performance. The winners over the first four years of the programme have total revenues of over €10 billion and employ over 24,000 people, emphasising the importance of indigenous Irish companies to Ireland’s economy. An independent judging panel will measure prospective companies’ performance by looking at a broad range of criteria including strategy, capability, commitment, financials and management performance across all key functions of the business. The Best Managed Companies Awards programme considers companies from every perspective and evaluates the management practices of companies. The judging panel will take a holistic view of the companies, their performance in relation to their peers, and the industries that they are operating in, in order to determine management success. The awards, which are open to companies from all 32 counties on the island of Ireland, offer benefits to all companies entering the programme – not just the winners. Valuable insights into the ingredients for long-term success of their business will be available to all applicants - and those who progress through the awards process will receive customised coaching and feedback. While in addition, winners will receive national and peer recognition, the opportunity to network with their peers in the industry at a gala awards ceremony and attend the IMI organised symposium. The ’Best Managed’ designation is an important marketing tool – but, perhaps most importantly, the awards provide a reason to celebrate the efforts of the entire company. For further information and details of how to enter the awards, visit The closing date for entries is 24 August 2012. The winners of the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards will be announced in March 2013. Entry Criteria To enter the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards programme, companies must meet the criteria listed below. Applications can be made online at
  • Irish/Northern Irish substantially privately owned, managed and controlled companies (incorporated in either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland)
  • Turnover in excess of €5million (STG£4 million)
  • Established for at least 5 years
  • Demonstration of superior financial results over past 3 years (in relation to their peers)
  [post_title] => Best Managed Companies – Can You Join the Growing Network? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => best-managed-companies-can-you-join-the-growing-network-6 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 21:52:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 21:52:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => /news-and-events/?p=961 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 9292 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2015-03-11 13:58:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-11 13:58:37 [post_content] => The cover story of the January issue of HBR caught my attention. This article was titled "The Authenticity Paradox" by Herminia Ibarra. As an executive coach the subject of authentic leadership is of real interest to me as it is a subject that in recent times, arises with increasing regularity. Following the economic downturn, and perhaps reflecting on the inauthentic decisions that precipitated the fall from grace of many executives, an increasing number of leaders are responding to the call for authenticity and meaning. Likewise, leaders who were in some cases sidelined during the boom times because they didn't follow the herd are now finding their authentic voice. [caption id="attachment_9383" align="alignnone" width="245"]Copyright Copyright[/caption]   Reading the article by Ibarra, however, I was reminded of the old joke that scientists like to tell. It goes like this. Late at night, a police officer sees an intoxicated man crawling around on his hands and knees under a streetlight. The drunk man tells the officer he’s looking for his wallet. When the officer asks if he’s sure this is where he dropped the wallet, the man replies that he thinks he more likely dropped it across the street. Then why are you looking over here? the officer asks. Because the light’s better here, explains the man. The point is that we sometimes search for answers where the light is better rather than where the truth is more likely to lie. I believe this to be the case when it comes to Authenticity and Authentic Leadership.

Authenticity is about 'Being' rather than 'Doing'. In other words, the search for authenticity is philosophical, rather than psychological.

However, we seem to search for authenticity through the lens of organisational behaviour. Is this because "the light is better here". Perhaps as leaders we need to return to philosophy. Fundamentally, my disagreement with the article is the emphasis on Doing before Being. This is at the very heart of the issue and is not surprising as modern western society is very focussed on Having and Doing and less on Being. Authenticity is fundamentally a way of being. Ibarra treats authenticity as Doing, something one does.The premise that Ibarra puts forward is that we should carefully choose our leadership actions, and act as chameleons focussing, not on our internal values, but instead constantly reacting to the external environment. However, for me, the chameleon metaphor sums up rather succinctly the very essence of inauthenticity. The chameleon is always reacting to the external world. It epitomises the outer-directed leader, whose identity is so much a reaction to others that his or her own being is emptied.

Having a clear sense of who you are is the best point to start a leadership journey.

I don't believe that any advocate of authentic leadership would suggest that we are fixed entities and remain so. On the contrary, our authenticity ultimately manifests itself in the authentic choices we make as leaders; choices based on understanding ourselves, our values, our strengths and our weaknesses. If we fail to start from a basis of authenticity then how likely is it that the leadership choices we make will be authentic. I am concerned then when I see an article that seems to be taking a backwards step by placing an emphasis on the rational roots of leadership enquiry; leadership as merely a set of qualities, behaviours, competencies which together go to make up "leadership". Authentic Leadership is a break away from early management theory, the search for certainty and predictability, and constitutes a move towards leadership as a way of being. This is at the heart (pardon the pun) of authentic leadership.

Have we learned nothing from the economic crash? Is back to business as usual? Are we going to settle for, at best, a thin veneer of authenticity or will we encourage the new leaders to stop trying to Act Authentic and start Being Authentic?

Billy Byrne works as an executive coach and HR consultant and has worked with a range of levels, from graduates to senior leaders. His experience includes a mix of both business level and corporate activity, including the the design and implementation of Organisational Development interventions and major change programmes. He has played a key role in the development of HR Strategy at ESB. Billy is a part of the Executive Coaching Panel at IMI.  Read more about the IMI Diploma in Executive Coaching [post_title] => Authenticity - Solid or Veneer? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => authenticity-solid-veneer [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:58:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:58:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 10454 [post_author] => 52 [post_date] => 2015-06-24 13:57:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-06-24 13:57:05 [post_content] =>  



Now that the economy is improving, businesses are feeling under a lot of pressure to perform with less resources.

There’s a fear of taking on too many people in case things dis-improve again.  And those we do take on have some learning to do.  We’re afraid to turn away work in case more doesn’t come along so we decide we’ll manage it anyway even though our resources are stretched to their limit. This can put a lot of strain on you as manager. Not only do you have to plan the strategy, cope with the budgets, connect with the customers, you also have to manage and lead limited resources.

So, how are you managing?

Obviously knowing how to do all of these things is going to be critical but you also need to make sure you’re not spending all your time in the office. Taking time for yourself during this phase will be essential.  Time to have fun, get fit, keep healthy.  There is a lot of evidence to show that we operate better when we sleep soundly, exercise enough, eat healthily. Think back to previous managers you’ve had.  If you’ve ever had a manager who is snappy, too busy to listen to you, and dismissive of problems you bring to him or her, you’ll know how it feels. When you fly, the safety demonstration always tells you that if there’s a sudden drop in cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop down in front of you – you’re advised to put your own mask on first before you help anyone else.  This applies equally when you’re managing others.

oxygen mask


Managers who score high on emotional intelligence are good at three core things:  1. Interpersonal skills 2. Personal management skills 3. Emotional skills. They understand their feelings and emotions, know how they feel at any given time and why.  They are also super aware of the effect those feelings have on the way they operate. They are cognisant of the way their feelings affect others, and understand how their teams and their colleagues feel in different circumstances which helps relationships.  They are also good at managing themselves – their time, health, well-being and their energy.

So how about you?

When did you last stop running on that treadmill long enough to realise you’re in constant fire-fighting mode? Do you take stock regularly to see where your energy levels are at? One useful strategy is to put a regular weekly calendar entry for a meeting with yourself.  Even a half hour per week to see how you’re doing, check to see if you’re doing the planning work that will benefit you and the company long-term and not just doing the day-to-day fire-fighting.  Did you manage to get out of the office at least twice this week by 6.00?  Are you sleeping soundly and exercising at least twice during the week? Are you stepping for lunch every day – even for 20 minutes and getting away from your desk?  If you are answering “no” to these questions – its time to make some changes.

Start managing yourself before you try to manage anything else.

  Lynda Byron is is an accomplished Leadership Development Specialist. Most of her time is spent helping organisations to identify and develop their key talent through innovative and challenging development programmes, as well as individual coaching. Lynda is the Programme Director for the IMI Diploma in Management. [post_title] => Are YOU managing you? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => managing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:49:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:49:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
Tanya Sheehan

Tanya Sheehan

14th Mar 2019

Tanya Sheehan is an IMI associate on the IMI Diploma in Organisational Development & Transformation.

Related Articles

Are You Odd Enough to Lead? What do Steve Jobs, José Mourinho and Alex Ferguson have in common?
A Higher State of Learning
Best Managed Companies – Can You Join the Growing Network?
Authenticity - Solid or Veneer?
Are YOU managing you?

Beat the Bots with Soft Skills

Our world of work is rapidly evolving.  Developments in automation and artificial intelligence have been predicted to mark the biggest shift in work since the shift from agriculture to manufacturing.  It will be critical for organisations to prepare for “The 4th Industrial Revolution”,  as they anticipate future skills requirements.

These developments indicate extensive change across industries.  The changing needs of the workplace mean a far greater emphasis on cultivating a workforce with a substantial soft skills capability.  Soft skills such as communication, creativity, emotional intelligence, initiative,  and resilience are abilities that artificial intelligence will have difficulty replicating.

The path to opportunity, for organisations and individuals alike, is changing.  Businesses are fighting to stay ahead of the curve, to hold onto their best talent and to fill key positions.  Individuals are conscious of staying relevant and employable in the age of automation.

The LinkedIn 2018 Workplace Learning Report surveyed 4,000 people; a combination of talent development professionals, employees, managers and executives.  All agreed – the number one priority for talent development in 2018 is training for soft skills.  In the age of automation, maintaining technical fluency across roles will be critical, but the pace of change is fuelling demand for adaptable, critical thinkers, communicators, and leaders.

How will humans remain competitive in a landscape filled with robots? (Picture Source)

As technology accelerates, soft skills are in high demand to fuel people and business growth.

Workers of the future will spend more time on activities that machines are less capable of, such as managing people, applying expertise, and communicating with others. The skills and capabilities required will also shift, requiring more social and emotional skills and more advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity.” McKinsey & Company.


Tanya Sheehan is an IMI associate on the IMI Diploma in Organisational Development & Transformation. Tanya is a Business Psychologist, certified trainer and accredited coach who works in the technology, pharmaceutical and finance industries.