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How to perfect your leadership skills

Learning leadership skills can make a real difference to your company’s bottom line, as members of one group of business owners found when they attended Designated Associates’ mentoring programme.

Over a period of six months, Elaine Owen guided the group through several different approaches to develop their leadership skills. Meetings covered role model sessions, competency development and creative techniques. Participants agreed that all these exercises helped them to improve as managers.

Gina Simpson runs a solicitors’ practice in Merseyside and appreciated the supportive group environment. “Before coming to the group, I felt lonely and confused. Now we all help each other, even outside the group meetings. The group has brought me back to earth; there is no judgement or embarrassment, just lots of positive energy.”

The other members of the group noticed a huge increase in Gina’s confidence. Since joining the group, she has won a new contract and booked extra work. She also recorded her own radio advertisement, which was broadcast on Heart FM.

Traci Williams offers spreadsheet expertise to her clients. She says: “The mentoring group allowed me to take a step back, see the bigger picture and get back on track. It’s useful that we all come from different types of business.”

Karen McKean runs Business Standard Solutions and has split her business in two since starting the mentoring programme. “I don’t usually make time for things like this,” she says, “but I made time for this: it’s fantastic. It’s good to meet with like-minded people who inspire you. So much happens in a month, so the regular meetings keep you focused. You get lots of emotional support and we talk about personal stuff as well as business stuff. I definitely feel more confident, and have learnt to trust the group.”

Sharon Rintoul’s laundry and ironing company has increased its volume and turnover since she started the mentoring programme. “The group gave me the confidence to grow the business and take on three more employees. I needed to take control, and by speaking to others I realised that I can be in control. I think the programme came at the right time. When you are working on your own, it’s easy to forget your vision. The group mentoring sessions keep you thinking ahead. We can all relate to each other, although we work in different businesses.”

All members of the group have grown emotionally during the mentoring process. They have agreed to meet regularly in the future, and continue to use the group as a sounding board, sharing problems and discussing important issues such as marketing strategies and time management.