Are you ready to dive in?

Are you ready to dive into a fulfilling career in leadership?

Are you ready to dive in?

Excuse me. Where are those arm bands?

An honest admission: I’m not the strongest swimmer. It is safe to say that Michael Phelps has nothing to fear when I jump into my local swimming pool.

Despite not being a strong swimmer, when compared to others my age, I have always enjoyed being in the water and challenging myself to slowly improve. I may not be the fastest or most accomplished swimmer, but I continue to work hard and make positive progress at my own pace. Will I be swimming across The Channel to France any time soon? No – but I continue to practice and make those small improvements.

In my professional life as a Leadership Coach, I have the privilege of working with individuals and organisations who are setting out on their own journeys into leadership. Like my swimming training, these people are also dipping their toes into the water for the first time and exploring how to become effective leaders.

Throughout my career, I have frequently heard that ‘leaders are born and not made’. This always made me wonder whether that sentiment is true.

Having supported hundreds of individuals through their leadership apprenticeships at Accipio, I can safely say that this statement can be rebuffed. I have witnessed the transformational power of apprenticeships first hand.

Leadership is a wonderful educational journey. I have personally benefited from honing my leadership skills over the past 25 years of my career, learning about my own strengths and weaknesses, while discovering how to get the very best out of others.

Whenever I have encountered difficulties in my career, I have always attempted to learn from my mistakes, focusing on self-awareness and self-management, and making the appropriate changes to help me improve and grow as a leader. Going back to my swimming analogy: you must keep jumping in with two feet and never be afraid to make a mistake… providing you always learn from the experience.

This may make me sound ancient, but if I could have my time again and go back to the start of my leadership career, I would genuinely look at beginning it with an apprenticeship.

Accipio’s Level 3 Apprenticeship offers people a wonderful opportunity to dive in and start building a fulfilling career in management and leadership. The programmes can be easily studied while in full-time employment and the UK government’s Apprenticeship Levy can help to cover the majority of any course fees.

Your line manager will support you in the workplace, while your personal Accipio Leadership Skills Coach will be available online throughout the course. This team will act as your lifeguards – on-hand to keep you afloat and ensure you come through your training safely and successfully.

These programmes have enabled hundreds of individuals to recognise their full potential. For the individuals who have successfully completed their courses, the apprenticeship empowers their confidence and they come away with the skills and understanding to support others effectively.

Sometimes barriers can be perceived – just like my own appraisal of my swimming ability. As a Leadership Coach, I have spoken to thousands of individuals throughout my career, and I have regularly heard people say, “I don’t have the time to study” or “I’m not a natural academic, so an apprenticeship will be too difficult for me.”

I always challenge these misconceptions, especially when 95% of our apprentices agree they had enough time to train alongside their day-jobs, while 89% of our apprentices agree that the course content is easy to follow.

An apprenticeship provides individuals with a chance to invest in their future. A chance to learn as you go, with support from an award-winning team of coaches. The activities are varied, with thought provoking discussions, tasks and experiences shared by other leaders from similar backgrounds.

Suddenly the prospect of learning doesn’t feel quite as daunting.

This leadership journey is yours to take. Our apprenticeships allow you to consider your own behaviours, to recognise the steps you have taken so far, and review how others perceive you. At the start of the course individuals undertake a 360 to map out their strengths and weaknesses which has proven to be such a rewarding tool.

So, if I could go back and speak and offer advice to my younger self, it would be to continue paddling forward, and never throw in the towel when things get difficult.

Why not explore how well you can swim, and see what waves you can make? The Level 3 Apprenticeship at Accipio is the perfect place to start…

By Mark Ellis, Leadership and Coaching Success Manager, Accipio

Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis specialises in coaching and leadership. He has Masters degrees in both areas, plus, a Level 8 CMI certification in Strategic Leadership. Mark has worked in the education, business, charity, and training sectors for over 25 years.