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Leadership Development in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises: Final Report
University of Exeter
Centre for Leadership Studies, University of Exeter
This report presents the outcomes of a two-phase programme on leadership development in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in South West England. Phase One of the programme was an independent piece of research to identify leadership challenges within SMEs. Data was collected by means of face-to-face interviews with 20 SME leaders across the Region and was supported by interviews with leadership experts/practitioners and a literature review. Finally, a half-day forum was held, to explore the outcomes of the research and how this could be used to develop an educational programme for SME leaders. The research identified four principle areas of concern for SME leaders in the South West Region: Strategic: how can SMEs respond to the increasing rate of change and competition in business? Human resources: how can the SME leader/manager best develop and utilise the capabilities of his/her workforce? Leadership: how can the SME leader/manager free him/herself up from day-to-day operational concerns to develop a strategic vision and direction for their business? Other: a range of concerns about other issues such as location, legislation, external advice, information gathering, and awards and accreditation. Phase Two of the programme used the outcomes of this research, and the discussion forum, to develop an educational programme for SME leaders. This programme comprised a number of different elements to be compared and contrasted, including: facilitated workshops, formal topic sessions, a short course on “people skills”, company consultancies, and an Internet forum. As in Phase One, the programme finished with a discussion forum to explore the outcomes and next steps. Evaluation of the educational programme revealed that there is a demand for leadership development within SMEs in the South West, particularly for peer group discussion amongst senior managers and directors. A number of lessons were identified and have been presented as recommendations for future training and development programmes with SMEs.
South West Regional Development Agency; Marchmont Observatory; Department for Education and Employment