A masterclass in performance leadership

Gary Keegan

Today’s guest was a driving force behind previously unseen success for Irish teams and athletes on European, World and Olympic stages. Gary Keegan is the Founder and CEO of Uppercut, a High Performance Consultancy, with a unique advisory service that helps transform how individuals and organisations achieve high performance in sport, business and leadership.

Gary has spent most of his career immersed in high performance across a range of competitive business and sporting settings. He is also the former Director of the Irish Institute of Sport and former High Performance Director with the IABA’s High Performance Boxing Programme.

In this episode, we discuss his early life and how he got involved in the world of coaching. We talk about his general approach and attitude to performance, which has brought so much success to teams and athletes he has worked with, including the Dublin senior footballers and Tipperary Senior Hurlers. We also dive into the art of leadership, coaching models and the importance of mindset, character and teamwork. 


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3:24 Gary’s different background in boxing 

5:46 What impact did individuals like Austin Carruth have on his coaching career?

8:32 Shaping his thoughts and coaching perspective on how to prepare boxers

12:04 When the world of amateur boxing changed in the 00s

14:07 Appointed the first Director of the High-Performance Unit to map out and sell the ambition of Irish boxing

22:08 Looking ahead for Irish Boxing

24:14 Gary’s high performance philosophy

27:31 How to develop, deepen and maintain relationships

30:26 A process for evaluating performance

32:15 Advice on delivering constructive feedback

36:28 The balance between effort and time for long-term strategy

40:49 How to avoid complacency and maintain the ‘hunger’

44:53 The similarities between great leaders

47:23 Get people to know what they should be looking

51:09 Why are some people coachable and other people not?

53:14 Incorporating mental behaviours and beliefs into a performance program

55:53 The lessons learned from sport that people can translate to business or their life generally

59:00 Why some individuals or team implode at certain times, and how to manage this

1:00:51 Ambition, motivation and having a sense of purpose for high performance

1:04:04 The relationship between character and sustained success

1:07:30 Can mental toughness be worked on?

1:11:02 The role of self-talk

1:13:57 Knowing when to, and not, push through resistance

1:17:57 Applying curiosity to Gary’s life

1:21:23 What makes an effective team?

1:24:12 Having a shared purpose

1:27:53 Bringing out the best in each team player

1:30:18 On having worked with Liam Sheedy and his leadership style

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