Don’t keep putting it off (in praise of leadership training)


At an awards ceremony a few months ago, I bumped into a fellow agency leader. He’d just completed a leadership course; in fact, it was one we’d both signed up for some months earlier with enthusiasm.

It’s fantastic, he told me. Do it. You need to do it. It’s fully-funded - all you have to do is commit time and buy a few train tickets. Ah, but I’m busy, I protested, lots of things happening and my business needs me there… Same as ever, for me and many others like me.

However, what he told me about his experience put an end to my excuses. I wanted what he’d had, and I wanted to grow my company faster than it already was. Leaders get trapped into working in the business - though we should be working on it. We make this trap for ourselves. It takes distance to gain perspective.

The experience has given me an incredible boost across the board:

  • Stimulated discussion and new thinking
  • Made an attitude adjustment to growth
  • Dominated my thinking in a positive sense
  • Made me more assertive
  • Forged a commitment to numbers
  • Inspired me and given me motivation to change things
  • Forced me to define my vision
  • Married new concepts and familiar ones
  • Brought me “the board you can’t afford” - the gift of support from my like-minded course colleagues via a WhatsApp group and meet-ups.

I learned some non-negotiable facts and busted assumptions that, in retrospect, might have held me back.  

  • You do need to use other people’s money to grow at pace
  • Make time for downtime, make space, hire and delegate
  • Leaders are supposed to look like they aren’t doing much
  • Growth is best achieved by 90-day sprints - not vague plans for the next financial year
  • Hire people that are better than you! Don’t be afraid of brilliant people
  • This is your business but you shouldn’t be irreplaceable

I attended the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses - there are other courses by other providers. Just don’t put something like this off. Make the time, especially if you feel trapped in your role, snared by the day-to-day of business and not the bigger picture. Never mind the excuses. Do it!