From education to employment

Initiative in Lancaster Management School Paves Way for Small Business Managers

While Prime Minister Tony Blair’s leadership languishes in the public consciousness for all to scrutinise, Lancaster University’s Management School is paving the way for the country’s small business managers.

Through their pioneering Leading Enterprise and Development (LEAD) initiative, they offer a package worth a substantial sum of £15,000, made available free of charge to businesses in the North West, to help the two areas of small business seen as pivotal to success ““ the actual business and the personal development of the owner-manager.

Fruits of Labour

Aimed at business’s with between 4 and 20 employees, this highly specialised programme funded through the North West Development Agency and Business Link is already seeing the fruits of its labour, with 53 business managers graduating from its course. As Lesley Swinn, an estate agent from Accrington, Lancashire, explains: “I was very attracted to the LEAD course because when you”re running your own business training is normally reserved for staff.”

Focusing on the personal development clearly helped her elevate the status of her business. “Although I had done lots of training in my previous life, I felt like I was missing focus in my personal development,” she said. “LEAD has rebuilt my confidence. It is like an instant boost because I know now that I”m doing a lot right but it has also given me a different perspective and a new way of thinking.”

Motivation in FE

Analogous to the recent themes running through the ranks of FE is the motivation and impetus of the initiative, to harness the personal development of small business owners and raise their quarry of real-world skills. This is accomplished through a mixture of master classes, mentoring, workshops, work-shadowing and even job swaps, each providing a different perspective and emphasis for which managers can hone and attune their attentions.

April Towers, of Brades Farm Dairy in Cumbria, demonstrates the effectiveness of LEAD’s teaching methods, having increased her business’s milk and cream sales by a staggering 17% since graduating from the course. And case study Peter Stubbs from Preston-based graphic design agency “2am Creative” validates these methods in a unique way. “Because the elements of LEAD are so varied, it is hard to put your finger on once particular aspect of the programme and say that it made a key difference. But what happens is that you take away little gems along the way.”

So at a time when the Home Secretary omits to tell the PM exactly what he does, and the PM finds out all sorts of information about what his Deputy has done, we can all take solace that leadership can be something stronger than the beleaguered present administration.

Vijay Pattni

Read all about FE at FE News!

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