One of the key issues that business faces is not just talent attraction but also retention. Nurturing staff and helping them to develop professionally and personally within the company is a huge benefit to organisations and the communities they are part of.

When it comes to business success, we know it’s all about leadership. The ability to lead individuals and teams to success is arguably the most important skill a manager can possess. But when you live and work in a rural Highland location, what is the most effective way to develop your staff’s leadership potential and skills?

This was a key issue that our business members were facing as they looked to nurture the talents and ambitions of their staff, and to ensure that their leaders of the future had the understanding and skills to lead individuals and teams to success.

In Lochaber, undertaking specialist management training would generally involve a lot of extra time and expense on top of training costs – it would previously have meant days away from home, plus accommodation and travel expenses…not to mention the extra time lost to travelling.

After surveying members, Lochaber Chamber of Commerce took the bold step of launching its own tailored ‘One Lochaber Leadership Programme’ to help local companies develop their staff with high-quality accredited management training – right here in Lochaber.

This high-quality leadership programme is fully accredited through the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and delivered by experienced trainers Bruce Milroy and Clare Moore of Ethos Consulting. Along with additional training and 1-2-1 coaching, delegates work towards a CMI Level 5 Award in Leadership and Management over the course of a year.

We’ve been delighted by the response from local businesses. Equally applicable to all working environments, delegates joined the programme from backgrounds as diverse as aluminium smelting, wood processing, renewable energy, and outdoor adventure businesses.

Marina Marin, Supply Chain Controller at BSW Timber, is a recent graduate of the One Lochaber Leadership Programme. Originally from Spain, Marina has worked in BSW’s logistics team for four years. She jumped at the chance to develop her understanding of managing and leading teams, saying:

“The One Lochaber Leadership Programme has been a great opportunity to learn in depth what leadership entails. The content was wide, structured, and applicable to all sorts of working environments. I would certainly recommend this program to others and I would encourage businesses to enrol their employees as the benefits from it are countless.”

Buoyed by the success of the programme, Lochaber Chamber has also now launched the complementary One Lochaber Mentoring Programme to help share business skills and experience across generations and industries.

As Frazer Coupland, CEO of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce says, ‘We care passionately about the success of all our Lochaber businesses. From the One Lochaber Leadership Programme, ‘Developing the Young Workforce West Highland’ programme, our training seminars and short courses, through to our new One Lochaber Mentoring Programme, we are constantly thinking of ways to help our members enhance the skills of their workforce.

We’re also excited about the future as we’re about to add a new ‘Head of Skills for Work’ to our Chamber team. They’ll look after all aspects of training and work closely with business to help make sure we’re doing everything we can to help them succeed.”