Follow the leader

Dr Mary HoganLeadership skills, essential for the success of any organisation, can be taught and learned, according to Dr Mary Hogan, Registrar at the Irish Management Institute (IMI).

The only Irish business school globally ranked by the Financial Times for the provision of customised executive education for the fifth consecutive year, the IMI in Dublin exists to raise the standard of management practice in Ireland by engaging with the wider business community and offering best practice business education through all of its programmes building leadership and organisational expertise.

“Through IMI’s links with both indigenous and multinational business operation in Ireland, we have developed unique insights into the skills and capabilities required by today’s leaders,” comments Dr Mary Hogan, Registrar at the Irish Management Institute.

Dr Hogan joined the IMI in October 2005 as Programme Director for the Henley MBA and the IMI BA in Management, having spent 20 years living in Hong Kong where she directed the Henley programme in Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and across Asia. She has lectured for such prestigious institutes as Syracuse University, the University of Hong Kong and Murdoch University.

First established in 1952, most of IMI’s programmes are for participants with at least three years’ management experience and who are practicing managers, attracting attract participants from across the spectrum, of business both public and private in Ireland.  The IMI also works with participants who are returning to work through Skillsnets’ programmes, as well as specific graduate groups.

Having partnered with Kerry Group to deliver island-of-Ireland graduate development for over a decade, in 2012 IMI was appointed Kerry Group’s global graduate development partner.

In 2013, almost two hundred Kerry Group graduates from across the world will participate in IMI graduate development programmes delivered in Ireland and overseas.

Also, at the beginning of 2013 IMI won a major multi-year contract with Enterprise Ireland for the delivery of its prestigious ‘Graduates for International Growth’ programme, which will commence in Q3 2013.

According to Dr Hogan, the majority of the IMI’s programmes are, in one way or another, appropriate for entrepreneurs involved in start ups.

“We have entrepreneurs on various programmes who have been involved in startups over a period of time. These are people who want to learn best practice structure for their organisations and to achieve a more structured way of thinking about their organisations as they move to generate future start ups.  We work with them from a strategic and innovative perspective.”

“Through IMI’s links with both indigenous and multinational business operation in Ireland, we have developed unique insights into the skills and capabilities required by today’s leaders. All our diplomas require individuals to review their leadership potential within the context of various core business frameworks,” she comments.

The MSc in Management Practice is centred on a change initiative in an organisation, and as such requires that the participants are leaders in order to develop and implement the change, Dr Hogan explains. The Henley MBA focuses from the starter module on Leadership and returns to that theme in the latter stages of the programme to ensure that participants are well-positioned from the programme content to take up positions of leadership.

Strong leadership skills are essential for the success of any organisation, she stresses. “For a startup in the early stages of development, the leader needs to have a focus on the product or service, which does not necessarily require strong leadership skills. The leadership skills come into play as the organisation begins to grow and develop.”

“There is an innate ability to lead, but this in no way means that leadership skills cannot and should not be developed and honed. Leadership skills can be taught and learned, and should be continually enhanced.”

While there are some standout examples of young people leading innovative entrepreneurial companies in Ireland, Dr Hogan comments: “I think we have a long way to go in providing an environment in which innovators can hone their business leadership capabilities while simultaneously developing the innovation itself.”

While there are some standout examples of young people leading innovative entrepreneurial companies in Ireland, I think we have a long way to go in providing an environment in which innovators can hone their business leadership capabilities while simultaneously developing the innovation itself.

Setting unrealistic or unachievable goals is the most common failing among young entrepeneurs in terms of leadership skills, she believes. “Many good ideas fail because of lack of clear direction, not having a clear strategic direction and following it.”

For those who are intent on improving their leadership and management skills, Dr Hogan would encourage them to consider what executive education could mean to them and for them in furthering their careers.

“The Psychology of Learning has shown us that adults learn through open and interactive dialogue that constantly requires them to relate the topic of discussion to their own context, and apply best-practice techniques to their work through classroom exercises, case study analysis and debate, rather than being lectured to,” she comments.

“When this type of action learning is applied in the context of a business, I have seen it achieve truly transformative results.”

Published in the latest issue of Silicon Valley Global magazine.

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