Last Thursday night, along with my colleagues from our Cork Office, Seamus Tobin and Michael O’ Brien, I attended a really interesting “Deloitte Best Managed Companies” event that featured a presentation from Gary Keegan, Director of High Performance Management in the Irish Institute of Sport. Prior to Gary’s current role, he spent 5 years as high performance director with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association’s (IABA) High Performance Boxing Programme. While there Gary devised a world-class talent management programme which was underpinned by a process-driven business model. Over a 5 year period, Gary’s programme achieved major European, World and Olympic success with no fewer than 29 medals achieved at these levels across the age spectrum. Gary opened the presentation by describing the culture and thinking that pertained around Irish boxing when he started in the role and the progress they made over the years, culminating in the success at the 2012 Olympics in London. Gary shared his insights and knowledge around facilitating people to realise their potential through supportive environments that are conducive to the delivery of high performance from people and processes. Gary spoke in some detail about the preparations the boxers undertook and the high performance culture they created among the team. He referenced the journey taken by Katie Taylor and Kenneth Egan towards achieving Olympic success.
Some of the key points I took from his presentation were as follows:
- Strategy is important but execution determines success.
- Leaders need to follow through on commitments to earn trust.
- When change was needed it had to be characterised by actions.
- The importance of fostering a culture that encourages one to be the best in their field.
- The importance of feedback from those on the front line, and the importance of acting on that feedback with a view to continuous improvement.
Overall it was a most enjoyable evening; we were also lucky enough to share a table with the former Tipperary Hurler Nicky English, and he shared some great stories from his days as an inter-county hurler and All Ireland winner.