Many small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are being held back by a lack of management and leadership skills, according to new research by Warwick Business School.

The study found that British SMEs identified poor management skills – entrepreneurial skills in particular – as preventing further business growth.

The report named: Leadership and Management Skills in SMEs: Measuring Associations with Management Practices and Performance looked at what SMEs felt they were lacking in their business to hinder their growth rate.

It surveyed 2,500 British SMEs across all sectors, all of which had between five and 250 employees.

Finding talented individuals

Professor James Hayton, member of Warwick Business School, and author of the report, said the research highlighted that SMEs are failing to employ management best practise and employees with sufficient leadership skills.

Professor Hayton examined the relationship between leadership and management skills, entrepreneurship skills, the implementation of management best practices and how these are related to productivity, turnover and employment growth.

The results highlighted that leadership and management skills are vital to SME success and business growth.

Professor Hayton said the research found the most important indicator of positive performance is entrepreneurship skills and that there is a strong argument to suggest these skills are associated with good strategic management practices.

He added the benefits of having top, skilled managers with good leadership skills have a huge impact on revenue and growth across all business types.

The results of the study highlight that UK SMEs require more skilled employees from a graduate background, equipped with good leadership and entrepreneurship skills.

Professor Hayton concluded that such skills are being widely taught within higher educational establishments meaning such managers should be easier to come by in the next few years.

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