Developing leadership skills with Buckinghamshire Business First

Effective leadership can transform a business and its productivity, and Buckinghamshire Business First (BBF) recognises the importance of management support and development programmes.

All roads lead to performance increases

Offering business leaders practical support to develop their management skills is integral to BBF’s mission of providing businesses with opportunities for growth. Effective leadership and performance are positively linked.

Evidence suggests a deficit of management capacity to drive performance is one of the main barriers to SME growth, and that best-practice leadership and management development can result in a 23% increase in organisational performance for a business.

BBF eases the journey down the road

It is clear there is a need for practical and effective support strategies for business leaders. BBF understands that in order for businesses to thrive and grow, business leaders need to dedicate time to their own personal and professional development.

As such, it has developed proven leadership and management support programmes, which come highly recommended by business eaders. One MD said joining one of BBF’s support programmes has saved his business thousands of pounds.

BBF’s two key leadership programmes

BBF’s two key leadership programmes - MD Ngage and Peer Networks – provide peer learning to enhance and develop skills, giving participants invaluable opportunities to share experience and ideas.

For those looking for a short programme, Peer Networks ran for two hours every fortnight over the course of 18 weeks, while the ongoing MD Ngage programme is ideal for those looking for something more in-depth, with one day out of the office every month over the course of a year.

Both bring like-minded individuals together to discuss challenges and opportunities, offering huge benefits both for each leader and for their businesses. Research has shown that a single point improvement in management practice score is associated with the same increase in output as a 25 per cent increase in the labour force or a 65 per cent increase in invested capital.

Peer Networks

The Peer Networks programme, which came to a successful conclusion in 2022, provided a flexible approach to topics and one-to-one coaching, with participants joining 10 other business leaders and senior managers at nine online meetings over 18 weeks.Topics ranged from finance and HR to sales and marketing, with expert facilitators giving members the flexibility to create a trusted local support network.

Participants were not placed in groups with competitors, so could freely share their challenges and benefit from the expertise of others. The free, fully government-funded, programme was designed for SMEs in operation for at least one year, with 5 or more employees through PAYE (or 2 or more if the reduction was caused by the pandemic), a turnover of at least £100,000 and an aspiration to improve.

MD Ngage

In addition to this, the ongoing MD Ngage programme is a paid-for programme that allows business leaders to take time out each month to explore new ideas, tackle challenging issues and grow as leaders – all with the support of like-minded peers.

The programme offers leaders from non-competing businesses the opportunity to meet and share experiences and ideas, supporting both their own personal development and that of their business – exploring ‘the art of the possible’. Developing a confidential network of trusted support allows business leaders to examine key issues and take solutions back to the office, in order for organisations to reach their full potential.

Positive outcomes are the norm

MD Ngage member Ashley Carr, founder and MD of NEO PR Ltd, said taking time away from the business to focus on how it can be improved has been hugely beneficial. “Everyone has issues with running a business in some shape or form. I’m able to bounce ideas off similar-minded MDs - it’s like having your own private business partners in a room, helping each other along.”

Klaus Allion, Managing Director of ANT Telecom, said he wished he had joined the programme earlier: “One peer-to-peer session saved my business tens of thousands of pounds due to the advice and introduction given which helped me to resolve a dispute with a large customer/company.“I wish I had been part of such a forum from when I first became executive MD. I would have made better decisions, less mistakes and been able to help others and improve myself. In short, I would have been much happier, much earlier!”

A survey of 1,248 senior directors and executives by the London Business School found many leaders are thrown off course by focusing too much on day-to-day activities rather than paying attention to personal development. In addition, 45 per cent said the biggest barrier to achieving their leadership potential was lack of strategic thinking.

'Changing the culture of the organisation'

Alex Pratt OBE, founder of Serious Brands Ltd, said his membership of MD Ngage benefits his business in the main because of the focus on strategic issues. “It benefits my business in lots of different ways, including changing the culture of the organisation by looking at individuals one at a time to understand them.”

Helen Wood, from Tip Top Venues, said she has implemented some of the ideas and suggestions from the MD Ngage programme. “I’ve got a lot of support from people in my group, not only from within the sessions but outside the sessions too. It’s great to have that support from people who are not directly involved in my business.”

Members of the programme work with the Chair of the group in between sessions to ensure actions are followed up on. In addition, members are recognised as Ambassadors of the Buckinghamshire business community and through invitation-only events, help to shape the local economy.

Want to join MD Ngage? Learn more!

More information on MD Ngage can be found on the Buckinghamshire Business First website.

The leadership and management support offered by BBF complements its wider support provision for businesses and as BBF celebrates 10-plus years of such support, business leaders across the county are encouraged to take advantage of the leadership support programmes on offer.

Together, we help secure the future growth of both established businesses and those just starting up.

For more business support informationb, visit the BBF Business Support webpages.