Ongoing Learning For Leaders

Ongoing Learning For Leaders


A leader’s commitment to self-development provides the basis for the evolution of a business. Both leaders and employees have to develop in line with the demands of the market. And when that market is more demanding, the need for training in hard business skills such as sales and finance, comes to the fore.

How to begin upskilling

Look for the gaps in your skills set. List the skills you need right now, as well as those you may need in the future. Investigate the courses and training options on offer. Take into account your interests, age, qualifications, experience, needs, job requirements, job profile, and your capabilities. Understand that you will have to give up what free time you may have and make a commitment to completing your chosen study programme.

Courses on offer

There are many courses on offer from reputable institutions covering topics such as sales, marketing and customer service. Here are a few options:

1. Finance. Among the most popular is finance for non-financial managers, designed for people whose work is not directly in finance, but who need to understand how and why financial decisions are made. This type of course equips participants with the analytical skills needed to use financial reports.

2. Sales. Any experienced business owner will tell you how important sales skills are in the SME environment. Whether you employ a sales manager or manage your own sales team, you need to know how to improve the success of the sales function in your business so that you can focus your efforts on improving profitability.

3. Marketing management. Marketing management programmes enable business owners to understand the role of marketing in the business, and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their organisation’s marketing effort. This is key to improving the marketing orientation and profitability of the business. Strategic leadership courses enable the business owner – and other senior managers – to focus on developing essential skills such as leadership resilience and agility in the context of an ever-changing and uncertain economy.

4. Project management. Project management courses provide participants with an insight into the technical, financial and organisational aspects of project management. They learn about project definition, planning, implementing and control phases, and how to use methods which can be adapted to suit projects of any size or complexity.

5. Negotiation ability. Business owners are likely to find themselves in a vast number of situations in which they are required to negotiate. Take your negotiation skills to the next level by doing a course on how to become an expert negotiator. You’ll put it to good use whether you are dealing with employees, customers or suppliers.

6. Leadership skills. If you are the owner of a business, chances are you already see yourself as a strategic thinker, but a formal programme in how to create innovative strategic plans and frameworks for your business can go a long way to creating a foundation for the development of your leadership style. Personal effectiveness through emotional intelligence lies at the heart of successful management, especially in our current environment. Programmes in emotional intelligence can help leaders to develop a thorough understanding of themselves in relation to others, enabling them to deal better with employees and managers in the workplace.

Wherever your interests in personal development lie, it’s important to remember that the quality of your leadership and the lifelong development of your skills and talents as a business owner through training and education are major factors in determining long-term profitability of a small to medium sized business. The study calendar (opposite) will give you a good idea of the courses and programmes on offer in the next three months. Go ahead and make this your time for self-improvement.

Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.