“You don’t become World Class WHEN you win a medal. You need to become World Class TO win a medal.”
High performance sport and business have a lot in common when it comes to the strategies needed to change an average organisation to one of elite high performance. That was the message from Gary Keegan, a High-Performance expert who has worked in recent years with Irish Rugby, Dublin GAA, the Irish Amateur Boxing Association and is currently the Chair of the High-Performance Advisory Group at Cricket Ireland.
Speaking to business leaders at the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Growing Something Brilliant (GSB) event, in partnership with Electric Ireland, Gary emphasised how critical leadership is when it comes to a change in mindset of any large organisation. He said, “If there was one key strand throughout my experience, it has been the importance of leadership when instigating change. While the organisation may need to change from the bottom up, without leaders that believe in the direction of travel, the organisation fails to convince others of their shared goals and the development breaks down.”
He continued, “Leaders, in this regard hold the most powerful levers of change and often the speed of this change will rest on how ready they are to ‘buy-in’ to the new normal. Without their influence, they offer an umbrella of protection for others to stay beneath creating resistance to future success.”
In addition to this, Gary believes many people underestimate how quickly an organisation can be transformed with good leadership and are intimidated by the perceived scale of cultural change that is needed. “Despite popular opinion, a determined drive to change the culture in an organisation can take less than 6 months. Once new values and standards are common-place they become part of our identity and an understanding is reached among teammates and employees that these are now the expected norms. Once this happens, it is only a matter of time before this becomes the lived ‘culture’ of the organisation and lasting change occurs.”
Electric Ireland, who have partnered with the NI Chamber to host the Growing Something Brilliant Series commented on the unique value leaders can bring to their organisations. Speaking at the event Dermot McArdle, Head of Markets at Electric Ireland said, “At Electric Ireland we’ve always aimed to support local business leaders to think differently, disrupt and innovate within their sectors. The unique insights from Gary Keegan have provided a blueprint for business leaders in Northern Ireland to achieve innovative and cultural change to grow the success of their organisations.”
Also commenting on the event, Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, said: “The aim of the Growing Something Brilliant events is to show how leadership can transform a company for the better. The wealth of experience Gary has brought should be a lesson to leaders in attendance how critical their role is in setting those cultural parameters and how important it is to ensure they are implemented.”