You’ll never be a perfect leader, but you can be a pretty great one

  • Tuesday, June 6, 2023
  • Posted By GM Leadership Hive

Why investing in your own leadership skills will make you, your business and your staff more successful (and happier)

Dawn Duggan, Head of People, Skills & Talent at GC Business Growth Hub, shares what she’s learnt over her 25 years of experience in organisational, business strategy and skills development for businesses.

Dawn Duggan 3

What is GM Leadership Hive, and how can it help business leaders to grow?  

GM Leadership Hive is a one stop shop for business leaders in Greater Manchester leadership and management support. Support is offered by the GC Business Growth Hub and the wider GM landscape, from the national Help to Grow management courses and Workforce Development Programme to online academic leadership that universities offer.  

We're here to help them develop themselves as a leader, as well as their leadership strategy. Being a successful leader doesn’t just stop at your personal skills, you must be able to think strategically about what’s next and how you, your staff and your business can grow.  


Why is leadership skill development so important? 

Nobody is an expert at everything. Every business leader starts being good at something, often in a practical aspect, which leads to success and growth. 

But just because your business is successful and growing, doesn’t mean you developed those leaderships skills along the way. Managing a business and managing people is different to being technically competent.  

Lots of leaders don’t think twice about keeping up to date with technical or professional certifications they need to keep growing and succeeding – leadership skills are the same, they need to be they need to be refreshed, revisited and sharpened.  


Why do Business leaders need to have a ‘Dare to’ Mindset? 

Daring to do something comes with other risks and you need to be prepared for that. Dare to be innovative, but plan for what that means. Trying new things means some things will fail, you need to have the resilience and the capabilities to deal with that.  

If you can, develop your leadership skills in the early days - get ahead of them whilst the business is small otherwise you may get comfortable and have a ‘if it’s not broke don’t fix it mindset’. But it’s never too late, you can make important and strategic decisions about yourself as a leader at any time. It takes a lot to realise you need help.  

My best advice is taking yourself down off a platform. Step down and let other people with the right skills step up and help. Listen to the people you employ because they are an expert in that area – you hired them for that reason!  

Being a leader means stepping up AND stepping down – dare to have the confidence and vulnerability to rely on other people. Empower your team to be as successful as they can be, and you need to have confidence in yourself before that can happen.  


What are the most crucial skills for leadership in the coming future?

Our research shows that one of the biggest needs is in digital skills, we live in a digital world and to be able to lead you need to know more than just the basics.

On another level, it’s more important than ever to have strong emotional, soft skills because of that increase in digitisation. Hybrid, remote digital working isn’t going anywhere, and leaders need to know how to manage that – it’s all about building trust and confidence within a team.

Data shows that people are more productive at home rather than in the workplace, and their work life balance is better – leaders must get on board with the digital world we live in to empower their performance.


How can being a mentor can help a business leader to develop themselves further?

Mentoring should be a two-way relationship. Whilst a mentor might have skills and tons of experience, a mentee will have their own experiences too. Mentees can help refresh their ideas – it's about coming together and working something out.

Most mentors end to be older than the mentee – things have changed, can this refresh their ideas. We find that a lot of mentors haven't worked remotely or hybrid for any significant amount of time but are often mentoring someone who’s whole workforce is remote. It’s about coming together and working something out.  

We call it reverse mentoring for that reason- each learn from their experiences, and both are made to think about things in a different way.  

It’s also never been easier! You can use iMentor - an innovative platform matching mentors and mentees across the city-region which is totally adapted to the digital world. With iMentor there are no set hours or commitment, it can be as much or as little time as you want. You can do it in person, virtually, over the phone or even via text. We welcome the mentors from all around the UK to connect with mentees from different background and grow together.


You’ve worked with many business leaders, what advice would you give to them today?

Leadership is about being able to give people a platform for ideas. Happy staff spread their ideas and have opinions, and they have good ones! It’s important that as a leader you don’t try and do everything yourself.

You can’t pour from an empty cup – you need to step back before you’ve exhausted your own ideas and become burnt out to protect your own mental health and wellbeing and develop resilience. By allowing your employees to step up onto the platform and share their ideas you are drawing on a wealth of experience and knowledge and not just relying on your own.

If you’re doing everything in your business, you aren’t an effective leader, you’re just a very busy one.


The GM Leadership Hive’s fully funded programmes empower you with the tools, skills and knowledge to run your business as successful as possible in Greater Manchester.

For more advice and to view all programmes available to you.