What's in a leader?

Being a leader is something that has always come naturally to me, however that doesn’t mean it necessarily comes easy. As a great believer in life-long learning and the Head of GoThinkBig, I thought it was important to road test one of the many career development opportunities that we offer on our website for young adults looking to get their foot onto the career ladder.

So, at the beginning of March, I job-shadowed O2 Telefónica CEO Ronan Dunne, a leader of nearly ten thousand employees. The day was an interesting mixture of filming for One Young World video, finance strategy meetings as well as 1-2-1 sessions and a Q&A with Jose Maria (the Chief Operating Officer for Telefónica) on the future of global business. The experience provided great insight and reassurance about the qualities required to be a worthwhile leader, as well as a chance to understand Ronan’s vested interest in Think Big programmes fulfilling their potential.

Although I only lead a team of ten instead of ten thousand, I found a number of leadership parallels between the roles of Ronan and myself:

  • Time is crucial and has to be used efficiently, particularly as it is always in demand from so many stakeholders.
  • Empowering others to use their skills and trusting them to fulfil their roles.
  • The number of hats that have to be worn in a single day as a leader. Being a coach, nurturer, enforcer and a public figure is simply all in a day’s work.

Initially I saw my time with Ronan as just a road testing exercise, but now I can appreciate more what my role as a leader actual means and the variety of qualities and skills needed to fulfil the role well.

Leadership can be a lonely experience and all-consuming where you don’t get the chance to reflect. However after spending the day with O2’s CEO, I felt energised from the experience of witnessing a seasoned veteran at work.