On Friday October 22nd last, we were delighted to host our 2021 Annual Conference – Compassionate Leadership Driving Successful Irish Family Businesses.
Streamed live on YouTube, viewers gained an insight into the role compassion can play at a leadership level in Irish Family Firms.
The event was again hosted by serial entrepreneur, Gavin Duffy and opened by NCFB Director, Dr. Eric Clinton.
The speakers explored their family experiences and learnings from leadership positions, alongside industry leaders and established academics.
The conference was born from all Ireland research conducted by DCU’s own Dr. Catherine Faherty in 2020 “Surviving a Crisis as a Family Business” which was launched in January this year. Catherine told us that “Compassionate leadership is very much based on a high trust environment in a values-driven organisation”.
John Brennan, Head of SME, Retail Banking, AIB Bank provided fantastic insights from AIB Bank’s perspective in terms of running a family business, with a structured approach within your leadership team, rather than focusing on the short-term.
Our keynote speakers were from John Sisk & Son. JP Sisk and SISK CEO, Stephen Bowcott to discuss the family, company history and most importantly changes they have made to improve the wellbeing of their staff.
It has been well documented that workers in the construction sector suffer more than average with their mental health. Showcasing the day’s theme of compassionate leadership, SISK have implemented a full mental and physical wellbeing programme for their staff, while ensuring financial stability, a leading cause of stress and anxiety.
Remarking on its progress, Stephen Bowcott said “It’s small steps, it’s a long journey, but it’s well on its way”.
JP Sisk said “There’s a reason we’ve survived 5 generations, it’s because we’re a family business.” What has remained constant throughout their history, regardless of world wars, global recessions, and supply shortages, is the care John Sisk instilled in his staff and his family, since its inception in 1859.
Our second family business speaker was Flora Crowe MD, Crowe’s Supermarkets Flora provided a real insight into leading a family firm through the pandemic, what it takes to be a compassionate leader, and how to remain level-headed in the face of adversity. Commenting on the variety of challenges people faced: “There’s no point forcing staff to come to work to be unhappy, you have to work with them”.
Paul Hennessey, an experienced family business advisor, shared insights into his experience on how compassionate leadership has benefitted family businesses.
Gavin also asked Paul about his new role as Chair of the NCFB Advisory Board, Paul complimented the board’s governance and its variety of members stating that
“You get a very healthy debate, and a very high level of ambition, and I think the future for the centre is very bright.”
Back row (l-r) Paul Hennessy, John Brennan, JP Sisk, Stephen Bowcott
Front row (l-r) Dr. Eric Clinton, Dr. Catherine Faherty, Gavin Dufffy, Flora Crowe
The NCFB would like to say a huge thank you to all of those who supported us through the making of this Conference, our guest speakers, and our proud supporter, AIB Bank.
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