1. Introduction

Far too often business select managers on their technical or current competence and then assume they will automatically become good managers / leaders.  Without adequate support and development, this can result in frustration for both the newly appointed manager / leader and for the people they are now responsible for.

The section on Skills Development focusses on the training required to enable employees to carry out their current job.  Leadership, Management and Career Development looks at the longer term challenges facing your business and your most talented employees.

Definition of Manager: Anyone who gets things done through other people

The information in this section will help you to:

  • understand the differences between leadership development and management development
  • recognise the differences between career development and skills development
  • identify the types of opportunities available to support your employees leadership and management development needs and career aspirations

2. Leadership Development and Management Development

Leadership and management development are structured processes to enhance skills, competencies and/or knowledge, via formal or informal learning methods, over a period of time.  This will benefit both the individual’s and organisation’s performance.

However, the following distinction can be made:

  • Management involves the planning, organisation, co-ordination and implementation of work, resources and employees.  Skills that need to be developed include time management, problem solving, decision making, communication, managing projects, innovation, as well as industry specific knowledge.  These are the focus of most management development activities.
  • Leadership development is more closely associated with the employee engagement aspect of the role, such as inspiring people, creating a shared sense of purpose, leading change, empowering teams within the organisation.  The concept of leadership development is more vague, and open to debate; its value and success is therefore often more difficult to measure.

3. Career Development

Career development differs from skills development and training in that it has a wider focus, longer time frame and broader scope.

The goal of training is improvement in performance; the goal of development is enrichment and more capable workers.

There is much evidence to suggest that rewarding and challenging work provides more motivation for talented employees than money.  Therefore, career development should be seen as a priority if your business wants to retain its most talented employees.

Career development means providing employees with an opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

4. Opportunities for development

Providing opportunities for personal development can encourage staff to improve their and others' performance and help to achieve your organisation’s aims and objectives.

It can support wider responsibilities such as legal, community / social, environmental and diversity.

There are a number of opportunities available to develop the management and leadership potential of your staff and their careers.

5. Courses and Qualifications

Both the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and Chartered Management Institute (CMI) offer qualifications for team leaders through to senior managers.  Most local colleges offer ILM or CMI qualifications.  Distance learning options are also available for many of these qualifications.

Structured management and leadership development programmes with modules tailored to the needs of Welsh businesses include:

  • North Wales Business Academy (NWBA) aims to boost business growth and competitiveness in North Wales by delivering a tailored programme to develop and enhance leadership skills across the region.
  • 20Twenty Leadership Programme at the Cardiff School of Management is designed to equip managers, leaders and owners with the skills required to deliver efficiencies, plan growth strategies and implement expansion goals.
  • ION Leadership Programme, jointly delivered by Swansea and Bangor Universities, is specifically designed to help owners, directors, team leaders and managers working in the private and third sectors develop their skills, grow sustainable businesses and enrich the lives of their employees.
  • Higher Level Apprenticeships enable Welsh businesses to meet skills gaps by providing staff with training and qualifications.  Work Based Learning providers offer places on approved NVQ Level 4 frameworks in a number of sectors.

Many commercial training providers, as well as local colleges, offer short management training courses on subjects such as communication skills, time management, teambuilding, etc.

6. Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching and mentoring are sometimes used interchangeably but there are key differences between them as shown below:


  • A coach asks questions and poses challenges.
  • The coach may have some knowledge but does not have to be an expert.
  • Relationship is for a set length of time and involves structured, planned meetings.
  • Focus is on improved management or leadership performance at work (task orientated).
  • Best carried out by someone other than the coachee’s line manager.


  • A mentor guides, answer questions, provides advice.
  • The mentor is usually an expert in the field or in your business.
  • Relationship can be ongoing over a long period - meetings are as and when.
  • Focus is on career and personal development (relationship orientated).
  • May be carried out by the boss.

You can find more information and a useful guide on how to implement coaching and mentoring by visiting the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/people/development/coachi… (Registration required)

7. Workplace / Job Shadowing

Shadowing for leadership development involves working with a more senior manager who can help the person shadowing to learn new aspects related to the role, its challenges, and the skills and behaviours required. This approach can complement more formal learning and aspiring leaders get to experience first hand what it takes to be a leader.

Similarly, when career development is the focus, job shadowing can be one of the options available for future talent to grow in your company.  Job shadowing can help to get a better sense of options available and the required competencies necessary in future.  An employee may shadow more senior employees in various positions / functions to get a better idea about what it takes to build a career there.

Job shadowing may involve ‘a day in the life of…’ or could be a more structured approach where shadowing takes place over a specified time frame or for certain events e.g. senior management or project meetings.

8. Secondment

A secondment is the temporary movement or loan of an employee to another part of the business (internal secondment) or to a separate organisation (external secondment).  Employees may be seconded into organisations ranging from major commercial businesses or public sector organisations through to small local groups, schools and charities.

An internal secondment may provide a unique opportunity to learn about different working practices and organisational structures. In the longer term, the secondment will help demonstrate an individual’s flexibility and adaptability, and open up other opportunities.

Examples of external secondments could include:

  • Managers seconded into a voluntary sector or other organisation to gain new skills in project management and experience of leading in different organisational contexts.
  • Public servants seconded into industry to gain experience of the private sector.
  • Technical specialists gaining experience of the supply chain through secondment to their suppliers or customers.

Secondments can last any length of time and could provide significant personal and professional development opportunities for the person concerned.  For the organisation the benefits may include improved succession planning, the filling of short term skills gaps or absences, or improved relationships with customers or strategic suppliers.

You can find more information and a handy factsheet on secondments by visiting the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/people/development/coachi… (Registration required)

9. Reflective Journal

Keeping a regular record of workplace experiences, particularly challenging ones, and what’s been learned can be a powerful informal method of developing personal and professional skills.  This type of learning can play a significant role in preparing people at all levels, but particularly managers, for future challenges.

Research by Harvard Business School has found that outstanding leaders take time to reflect.  But, the reality is that most people’s working lives are fast-paced and busy, and they don’t leave time to actually listen to themselves.  Here are some steps to take:

  1. Buy a journal.
  2. Commit to reflecting.
  3. Find a quiet place.
  4. Choose the right time.
  5. Write whatever comes to mind.
  6. Don't share your journal with anyone - unless you want to.

See our Guide to your Reflective Journal here

10. Volunteering

Employer-supported volunteering is where organisations provide employees with the opportunity to volunteer during working hours.  This involves paid time off for individual volunteering or in a programme developed by the employer such as a team challenge event or an ongoing arrangement with a community partner.

  • Benefits for employers.  Some of the recognisable benefits for employers include the link between volunteering and employee development, and the opportunity to engage with employees whilst improving communication and understanding of the local community. In addition, employers can also build stronger teams and improve staff morale whilst improving overall brand reputation and demonstrating a commitment to making a difference to the local community or wider society.
  • Benefits for employees.  Volunteering gives employees the opportunity to develop key skills in areas such as team working, resilience, coaching, leadership and creativity. Volunteering also gives employees the chance to build connections with their local communities and give something back while working on issues they feel passionate about.
  • Benefits for the community.  Community and voluntary sector organisations often have low budgets and value enthusiastic volunteers with specialist skills, expertise and knowledge. Employer supported volunteering programmes work well when employers and volunteers have an open, mutually beneficial and respectful relationship with the organisation they wish to support.

11. Types of Volunteering opportunities

Individuals have different interests and motivations for volunteering and will be attracted to different types of volunteering activities. A good volunteering programme focuses on employers giving individuals time off to pursue volunteering opportunities during work time.

It might also include partnering with community and voluntary sector organisations to provide employees of all levels the opportunity to volunteer and contribute to social change.  Employees may choose to use their volunteer time to support charities or causes of their own choice.  Volunteering opportunities can be either short or long term.

One-off or short-term volunteering opportunities usually involve short and specific tasks that are easy to start and complete. Many such short-term volunteering opportunities are available ranging from individual to team building activities. Examples include delivering a careers talk in schools, running a CV or interview skills workshop, or team challenge days such as river and park cleaning.

Longer-term volunteering opportunities allow employees to make a sustainable commitment to support voluntary and community sector organisations by participating in initiatives which take place over longer periods. Examples include working on community projects, or taking on positions of responsibility such as an accountant helping a charity with their book-keeping. Some people use their skills to sit on boards, for example as a charity trustee or school governor, especially where certain skills such as finance, marketing, or business planning are highly sought after.

12. Online Resources

The Welsh Government’s Business Online Support Service (BOSS) offers a range of free online courses on topics including:

  • Building Successful Teams
  • Coping with Workplace Change
  • Coaching for Leaders
  • Decision Making
  • Effective Induction
  • Introduction to Project Management
  • Making Effective Presentations
  • Managing Absenteeism
  • Managing Your Time
  • Mentoring Others Effectively
  • Setting Objectives and Monitoring Performance

Registration is free and simple at https://businesswales.gov.wales/boss

Skills Information Hub