Padraig O'Sullivan

Leadership in an Age of Complexity: Padraig O’Sullivan

Padraig O'SullivanPadraig O’Sullivan is Managing Partner of OSullivanField, a leadership advisory firm that “specialises in accelerating leaders to be effective in their roles and sometimes even brilliant”.

Padraig is a thought leader, leading international business consulting coach and University educator, with over fifteen years’ leadership and coaching experience encompassing Australia, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Insight publishing called him “one of Asia’s top leadership experts”.


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More about Padraig

New Role for Padraig

Our conversation opened with the news that Padraig’s firm OSullivanField, is soon to merge with the prestigious US based The Leadership Circle, where Padraig will be Global Head of Coaching.

Admired Leaders

Expectations of leaders today are too high. We seem to focus on their flaws more than ever before. The 24 hour news cycle now enables closer, more constant scrutiny.

For leadership there is no “one size fits all”.

Some leaders Padraig admires may not be as well known to the general public as Sir Richard Branson and others but demonstrate great leadership qualities.

He mentioned, as exemplifying key qualities of leadership:

Andrew Bassat, Co-Founder and CEO of the phenomenally successful company SEEK Limited.

Michael Ilczynksy, Managing Director Seek Employment, responsible for the company’s online employment business in Australia and New Zealand.

In the government sphere, Daniel Hunter, CEO of the New South Wales state government agency HealthShare, with some 6,000 employees not counting hospital staff.

And one more widely known, the musician and international figure, Bono from U2.

Conversations Leaders Need to Have

We talked about the monologue leaders have with themselves, when an idea or an issue can’t easily be discussed with others, for example when it is still a “thought bubble” or is a sensitive issue the leader has to try and figure out before it can be shared. Especially as business becomes more complex.

Leaders need input from someone else who does not have an agenda, other than to support the leader in coming to good decisions. There is a series of conversations leaders need to have to help them “get out of their own way”.

Expat Leaders

We talked about some amazing statistics mentioned in something Padraig had written about expat leaders, as follows:

The typical assignment is for 3 years, the failure rate has been calculated as being somewhere between 25% and 50% and the cost of a failed appointment can be as high as 40 times the base salary of a senior exec on a base salary of $250,000 or more (i.e. minimum $10 million).

Anyone considering appointment to an expat leadership role, or responsible for placing others, should listen to this bit (begins at the 16 minute mark). As well as the impact on the company and the individual when an expat appointment does not work out, there is apparently a high social cost, especially in marriage failures.

Padraig’s firm has developed a program to address these issues and has been able to reduce the failure rate from the “norm” of 25-50% down to 5%.


More about Padraig and Contact Details

At an individual level, Padraig works with senior executives with typical assignments include supporting them in transition; usually from functional management to company leadership; leadership effectiveness and in stretch roles.

His work with Executive teams includes newly formed or reformatted teams to guide them from current status to high performance and to develop or change their organisational cultures.

He is an Honorary Fellow of the Sydney Business School (UOW) where he teaches on the Masters of Business Coaching degree, specialising in Innovation and Business Change and Leading teams and groups towards high performance.

Padraig has been published in a range of academic journals and is the published co-author of “Leadership: Helping Others to Succeed” and author of Foreigner in Charge: Success Strategies for Expat leaders in Australia and Foreigner in Charge: Success Strategies for Expat leaders in Singapore, which show expat executives what to really expect beyond the first 90 days.

You can get in touch with Padraig via the OSullivanField website at this link. Just click on the Contact Us tab in the top navigation bar. (Although as mentioned OSullivanField is merging soon with The Leadership Circle, I am assured the current website and links will be staying in place for some time.)

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Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

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  1. Amazing article. I am so impressed. I think you have a great knowledge especially while dealings with such subjects.Keep it up..

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