1% Better S4,

Declan O’Connell – Coaching Individuals & Teams for High Performance – EP157

April 09, 2020

Declan is an experienced professional coach, trainer and facilitator. His areas of expertise include high performance, leadership, mental toughness, career management and team development

Declan brings a true passion for his coaching, offering a customised approach that targets the specific developmental needs of those with whom he works with.

Declan offers bespoke training interventions derived from a detailed Organisational Needs Analysis. These interventions include bespoke leadership and management development programmes; team development programmes; and personal development and self-awareness programmes for general staff.

Declan can cater for all organisational levels from C-Suite, Directors, Middle Management, New-to-Management and Graduates.

Declan’s approach is focused on developing a trusted partnership with his clients through a challenging but supportive, empathetic style. He fully believes in the power of people’s potential and his approach is centred on supporting his clients navigate and achieve their desired goals. He is particularly adept at helping to create a transformational shift in the mindset and behaviour of individuals. 

Declan has a huge passion on people and performance. His goal and work is to help people and teams to solve problems, underpinning this work is developing emotional intelligence.

Declan has 4 main focus areas in his work. These are:

  • Performance Consultant
  • Leadership Development
  • High Performance Teams
  • Performance under pressure

During the conversation, we dive into a number of areas of interest from Declan’s journey with lessons learned, tools for achieving high performance, and tips you can apply to help you and/or your team grow. If any of the below summary points are of interest, you’ll want to hear more!. Links to more on Mindflick and how to connect with Declan at the end.

Key talking points we covered are:

  • Always having a burning interest in people, people psychology and mindset, initially through a sporting frame
  • Completed an Adult Education course in Sports Psychology which then lead to a masters in UCC in Psychology
  • Having a passion for and loving to work with people, 1-1 or in groups…
  • Where did this interest come from – Nature v Nurture and lifelong learning
  • Reading autobiographies that were full of lessons of life experiences
  • The importance of continuous learning
  • Feeling imposter syndrome when starting his master’s degree in Psychology
  • Seeking out rich learning experiences always and immersing himself in this world
  • Making the decision to step out and go out on his own?
  • What were the lessons learned from the early days of working for himself
  • Developing a process for tracking learning
  • With Coaching – the concept of non-attachment – knowing the process but not attached to any outcome….being clear on this
  • Knowing your own preferences is key
  • When do strengths tip over to become weaknesses?
  • Developing self-awareness
    • The master’s program in UCC was very focused on Self-Awareness and this was a big eye opener
    • Videoing coaching sessions and looking back on these that helped with self-awareness
    • Gaining a huge sense of who you were after this UCC course
  • Using the Spotlight framework from Mindflick
  • Trying to develop a sense of humility in individuals and teams
  • Once humility is developed, now focus on curiosity
  • At the top of the pyramid – allowing individuals and teams
  • How to develop humility
  • Behaviour styles frameworks using FLEX
  • The key to making things safe
  • Core principals of Spotlight – it’s a strengths-based tool
  • Adaptability – being able to look at things from different frames
  • Creating safety is key in a team environment
  • Self-regulation and being able to judge the room
  • The big 5 personality traits
  • Spotlights is key on adaptability
  • Personality is 70% of the environment
  • Reinforcement sensitivity theory
  • Evidence based practitioner is essential for the spotlight assessment
  • Mindset framework within Spotlight – COPE
    • Containment
    • Optimistic
    • Prudent
    • Engagement
  • The importance of practice in developing a mindset
  • Profiling Teams with Performance and Improvement
  • Spotlight Teams features
    • Level of psychological safety – key to high performance
    • Team dynamics of performance, engagement and effectiveness
    • Provides a plan to take the team to the next level
  • The COPE framework with a tech start-up example..
    • 4 optimistic mindsets and 1 prudent mindset – this helps keeping things balanced
  • The vital need for psychological safety in the team – this is critical
  • Asking a difficult question in the boardroom is like being evicted from the tribe!
  • Making new habits stick in leadership teams
  • Having healthy tension within the group is key but it comes back to relationships
  • The power of being an outsider
  • Seeing tangible benefits is always a key breakthrough
  • Learning from assessments but not to box anyone into any frame – keeping loose and knowing the moving is ok
  • Premature evaluation – placing limits on the relationships


  • Key tools to use:
    • A reflective log – making a log on a daily basis and developing as a result of this
    • The Empty Chair Exercise – making sure the team look at areas that aren’t being looked at
    • De Bono Thinking hats
    • Making Teams fall in love as a tool…. Trust Exercise – Professor Arthur Aron – Human Intimacy – 36 questions
      • Staring at each other in the eyes for 4 minutes without talking!
    • Problem Cleaning & Pig wrestling
      • Problem Cleaning is a simple and effective process that enables people be more insightful, productive and impactful when dealing with the challenges that they face.
      • Starting to describe the problem from different frames..
  • New developments from Mindflick focusing on
    • SpotlightYouth
    • SpotlightX
    • SpotlightTeams – putting a metric on teams
  • The most standout thing you’ve learned in the last 12 months?
    • Non-attachment – confidence of delivering your
    • Pressure and Stress is a choice – managing yourself outside of this
    • The evolution of the reflection log – linking self-esteem to this ongoing and this is not sustainable always
    • Rest, Recovery, Reflection, Sleep, all are key – linked to self-esteem
    • Getting comfortable with some things that land and some that don’t!
  • Having a goal of making one person breath easier!

For more on Declan, you can find him on:

For more on Mindflick & Spotlight

If you enjoyed this one, I’d love to hear what stood out for you?

Scroll to top