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CLS2021 Day One Opening Plenary

I'M A CHARITY CEO GET ME OUT OF HERE! with Rosemary Keogh (Ire), CEO at Irish Wheelchair Association

As part of a Masters in Work & Organisational Behaviour, I am currently completing a qualitative research study on the well-being of Irish charity CEOs and the factors that influence that, and would welcome the opportunity to share the learnings from this study with the wider charities’ leadership community in October.

The study, based on interviews with CEOs across the sector, sheds light on the well-being effects of working with voluntary boards; crisis management (financial, reputational, sectoral, and of course Covdi19); and the loneliness of life as a CEO.

The study has also provided valuable and thought provoking insights on charity CEO motivation, attitudes to vulnerability and how – or if – charity CEOs cope with stress and mitigate against burnout. From my experience as an executive coach and from my organisational behaviour learning (as well as personal and painful experience of burnout) I can also share some thoughts and tips on how we can all be better at looking after our own well-being.

Why Does this Matter?

Non-profit CEOs are responsible for 7% of Ireland’s national workforce in organisations that exist to pursue civil society objectives (Benefacts 2019 ), and have significant economic responsibility through the generation of €13.8bn turnover annually, €5.8bn of which comes from the State . For organisations to achieve and maintain competitive advantage, they must be able to attract and retain the best talent and, particularly in a leadership context, motivate that talent to achieve and enable them to fully apply their skills and talents to their work.

This is no less important for charities that need leaders who, notwithstanding limited earning potential, are value-aligned to their work; are willing to immerse themselves in their roles; and who demonstrate initiative and commitment to high performance achievement both organisationally and personally. This is highly relevant in the context of this research as previous studies have shown that well-being and engagement can be related to tangible outcomes that include customer satisfaction; job performance; as well as organisations’ positive financial performance.


Rosemary Keogh - CEO, Irish Wheelchair Association

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