A great leader can make a business thrive. But not every business owner finds it easy to make the transition from working ‘in’ their business (making sure the day to day running is kept ticking over) to working ‘on’ the business (leading, motivating teams and driving profitability). Whilst leadership skills can certainly be learnt over time, for some SME owners and senior managers it can be a real challenge, and they can even feel quite uncomfortable if they lack confidence in their abilities.

Needless to say, the effectiveness of a leadership team has a significant impact on all elements of the business. Engaged and motivated team members usually feel that way thanks to positive leadership – they feel clear about what the company’s objectives are and understand their role in achieving them. Equally if the leadership team isn’t working together as well as it could, there may be confusion and lack of direction which filters through the business.

Investing in Leadership and Management training is often cited by the businesses I work with as “the best decision we ever made,” such is its immediate and long term impact on all elements of the business. Below are some examples of ways it can really make a difference:

Developing your own personal leadership style
It’s important that leaders retain their sense of self and play to their strengths. Leadership and Management training can help them identify their ‘natural’ style, whether that’s inclusive, democratic, collaborative or directional and authoritative, and which skills and attributes to dial up or dial down in certain situations. It can help leaders become more assertive (or less dominating), communicate more effectively and inspire, motivate and influence others.

Encouraging creative thinking
Whilst you wouldn’t necessarily link the aptitude of a leader with the creativity of the individuals within an organisation, there are clear links between how an organisation is directed and managed, and how creativity is leveraged. Much of what encourages innovation in an organisation is cultural, so leaders benefit from training in how to build these cultures and sustain them – providing their staff with outlets for creativity, encouraging them to share ideas, and rewarding them for their contribution to encourage ongoing creativity and idea sharing.

Managing change
Change happens in business. Some changes are good, for example, you might launch a new product or service that really boosts your profits. Some changes might be bad, maybe a popular and valuable member of your team might decide to move onto pastures new. Either way, the strength of leadership is vital to ensure staff feel included, informed and supported through these periods of transition. Leadership and Management training helps business leaders equip themselves with the right level of adaptability and flexibility to respond to change and communicate well with their staff as it unfolds.

Continuous improvement and sustainable growth
Ambitious SMEs are constantly striving for growth, but it’s important that plans are put in place for that growth to be sustainable rather than a short term, unmanageable surge that can actually harm your business. Leadership and Management training helps SME owners learn how to embed a culture of continuous improvement within their organisation, with simple tools and processes that can make a significant difference to performance and employee motivation.

Entering new markets
Some companies successfully operate in a niche market and don’t ever need to enter into new ones, with more than enough business coming in through referrals, but it’s fair to say that they are in a small minority. Most growing businesses need to grow their markets, and many businesses do not have marketing plans that align with their business strategy, or have a limited understanding of who their potential customers are and how they can be reached. Training can help businesses analyse potential markets and design and develop a marketing strategy: For many this will include developing their ability to use digital marketing and social media. It can also help them to pitch for work in new areas, whether this be new geographies in the UK or abroad, or different business or consumer sectors.

Working as a team
Relationships within senior teams aren’t necessarily always harmonious, but it is important that leaders are equipped with the skills to manage conflict, establish rapport, identify drivers and barriers and generally work together towards shared goals and ambitions. Leadership and Management training can help teams pull together when it really matters; by helping them establish clear roles and responsibilities. It can also help them understand the most effective tools for performance management and support the career development of their staff.

The good news is, professional training to deliver these widespread benefits needn’t cost the earth. GrowthAccelerator clients can access match-funded training of up to £2,000 for every senior manager involved in the strategic direction of the business, to undertake leadership and management training of their choice provided it supports the business’s growth agenda. Our expert Coaches, Growth Managers and Leadership Specialists can suggest training provision and providers if you need help.

Strong leadership and management is a key factor in fostering innovation, unlocking the potential of the workforce and ensuring organisations have the right strategies to drive growth. So if you’re an ambitious leader of an SME it could be well worth considering how your business could reap the rewards through GrowthAccelerator.

Stuart Walker, Leadership and Management Executive at GrowthAccelerator