"We learned so much from discussing and solving challenges among fellow cohort members with the benefit of a business mentor or a coach in the room to support us."
Llandudno Imperial Hotel boss Geoff Lofthouse; Dr Richard Furniss of Bangor environmental consultancy Egniol, director Ryan Sandick, of Llandernog-based Mental Health Care UK and Anglesey Sea Salt sales co-ordinator Ella Parsons all honed their leadership skills on the ION programme.
Firms whose employees attended similar leadership training saw an average increase of 26 per cent in turnover.
Delivered by Bangor University, the programme is based on the premise that strong leadership is the critical enabling factor for business growth.
The training is designed to develop and enhance the leadership and management skills of owners, entrepreneurs, leaders, managers and supervisors who are in the early stages of developing their leadership skills. It concentrates on transferring knowledge and skills that enable growth and sustainability in organisations.
Two courses are available. A New Leaders programme runs for seven days over five months. The programme fees vary according to size of business, although many firms pay a total of just £600 thanks to funding from the European Social Fund (ESF).
The Leading Growth programme, which is more strategic and aimed at directors, owner-managers and senior management, runs for 12 days over eight months and costs from £1,195 thanks to ESF funding.
Mr Lofthouse described the programme as ‘exceptional value for money’ and is set to send other members of his staff onto it.
He added: “I’m in the later stages of my career, but it was still valuable.”
Dr Richard Furniss, who manages a team of staff at the 40-strong Egniol, on Parc Menai, said: “It gives an overview of what to do and not to do, as well as a good insight into leadership styles.
“The motivational side is also very good, as well as the reflective learning.”
Anglesey Sea Salt sales co-ordinator Ella Parsons, said the programme was ‘gold dust’.
She added: “I was one of the few in our cohort that didn’t have any previous managerial experience and I learned a lot.
“If you see an opportunity – especially a part-funded course like this, which is becoming more and more like gold dust these days – just grab it with both hands. You’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain.”
Ryan Sandick, whose company owns 14 care homes and employs 1,000 staff, said: “We learned so much from discussing and solving challenges among fellow cohort members with the benefit of a business mentor or a coach in the room to support us.
“I recommend ION leadership training. It’s great value for money.”
More than 1,000 budding leaders have already completed the ION and previous LEAD Wales programmes across Wales.
Several further cohorts are due to run between now and June 2018, when funding is currently due to end.
Leadership development manager Tom Barham, said: “Companies that use the ION programme understand that skilled leadership can have a big impact on company growth.
“ION is all about business growth, whether in a small or large business. It’s here to make Welsh businesses bigger and stronger, by investing in leadership, so they employ more people.
“It’s not all about chalk and talk. They do problem-solving in a group, so they learn from each other, as well as from our masterclasses and one-to-one coaching.”
Previous attendees have included employees in roles such as finance, HR, marketing and operations, as well as CEOs of smaller firms with growth potential.
For information and to apply online, visit www.ionleadership.co.uk or call Tom Barham on 01248 382497.
Led by Swansea University in partnership with Bangor University, the ION leadership project is backed with £2.7m from the European Social Fund to raise skills and drive forward productivity and turnover in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as in larger companies.