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Life at the top can be lonely. Mentoring can provide business leaders with the time-out needed to focus on their own professional development.

As Managing Director of Haines Watts Hereford, I embarked on a journey of being mentored through a formal programme with the Leadership Trust.

Senior Haines Watts Partners are offered regular business coaching through the organisation, with the aim of enhancing teamwork, communication and morale. And the benefits flow through the whole team.

But for people in senior roles, talking to colleagues about some issues can be difficult. There is a need to be seen as strong and in control. So, these sessions provided me with an opportunity to discuss my fears and concerns with someone who was not part of the business. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve personally and for the Haines Watts group, but found my own doubts were holding me back.

To my surprise, I discovered that I already knew how to overcome these concerns. But it wasn’t until I talked about it that I realised I was keeping myself back. An external perspective was what I needed.

One year on, the first awkward meeting is forgotten and I now look forward to my sessions. I discovered I was hesitating about having certain conversations for various reasons. And my doubts came not from other colleagues at Haines Watts, but from myself.

Business leaders tend to feel they should have an answer for everything, when often they don’t. Being the only Resident Director, I felt I needed to be the person who had all the answers and was always calm. But I learnt that it takes strength to admit when you don’t know the answer to a question.

The support and guidance provided by my Leadership Trust programme mentor has also helped me to bring more of my personality to my role.

The result is a more integrated team; stronger business growth and an improved work/life balance because I am no longer under pressure to prove myself as a leader.

Encouragingly, the board tell me that they always had confidence in me.. I am now starting to find that in myself.

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About the author

Karen McLellan

Karen specialises in providing business consultancy, tax mitigation and accountancy services to owner-managed businesses. As a business owner herself, Karen understands the challenges of building and running a business.

She provides strategic advice to clients which has a positive impact on the growth and value of their business, and which helps the individual achieve their personal goals. Whether its advice on restructuring, tax mitigation, succession planning or preparing for sale, Karen can help the client get to where they want to be.

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