What makes a great leader? That was the focus at this month’s Institute of Directors in Ireland event at The National Gallery.

To discuss this topic, the IoD invited Jamie Heaslip, Ireland and Leinster Rugby Player, Anne Heraty, CEO, Cpl Resources plc and Bobby Kerr, Entrepreneur and Broadcaster, to take part in a panel discussion. I was delighted to attend on the evening, and to share their advice with you below.

Anne Heraty, Cpl CEO – Trust is key

CEO of Cpl, Anne established the business in 1989 and continues to lead the company. Anne is also passionate about nurturing and leading new business talent. An experienced business leader Anne confirmed that trust and strength of character are key to being a great leader.

Good leaders bring out the best in people and when you have trust as a leader you can drive change and bring people to new heights, helping them reach their full potential. You achieve very little alone, so one of the most important jobs a leader has to do is to select their team and then commit to each individuals success. To lead you must lead by example. Experience is also a great teacher particularly, when things don’t go right.

Lastly, Anne highlighted the importance of having your own mentor, someone to get feedback and advice from so you are always learning and improving.

Bobby Kerr, Businessman & Entrepeneur – Surround yourself with good people

Bobby Kerr is an Irish businessman, entrepreneur and was a founding dragon on RTÉ’s Dragon’s Den. After almost 20 years building the Insomnia brand in Ireland, in 2017, Bobby sold his shares in Insomnia to refocus and reevaluate following a cancer scare.

Speaking from his experiences Bobby advised that to be a great leader you need to have great people around you – from your business partners to those working for you and mentoring you. To lead you need people to be sincere – reputation & integrity are key to leadership and without them people won’t trust you or want to work for you. Doing rather than saying was also paramount for Bobby, be brave and don’t care about what others think if you are passionate about making it work.

Jamie Heaslip, Ireland & Leinster Rugby Player – Value your values

Ireland and Leinster rugby player Jamie Heaslip is a respected sports professional and keen businessman and charity patron. Winning titles and taking part in business ventures has taught him how to succeed on and off the pitch and what makes a great leader.

For Jamie, he believes planning is vital to success – for leaders and non-leaders. In both sport and business Jamie advised that having a dream, followed by a clear plan is important. If you have an idea, you need passion, something to aspire to, followed by clarity to get things done. Like Anne, Jamie also advised on having an honest and open approach and to show your values in your actions.

So, what makes a great leader? The common message on the night was to collaborate well and always be open to growth and feedback. Leaders must live their values, communicate effectively and always lead by example.