I started on the PR Week Mentoring project unclear about what to expect. I wasn't sure what to ask of my mentor or what she could do to better equip me for the challenges that come with being a shareholder, director and account director of a PR agency with offices in three jurisdictions. 

As it turns out, Denise Kaufmann from Ketchum UK has imparted invaluable advice, having a dramatic effect on my performance.

We decided last March that there were four key areas to cover, starting with how to become a better manager of people - and Denise shared with me the wisdom I'd been looking for. I consider myself to be a capable consultant, but that doesn't always translate into being a good manager. Being an excellent manager and being a strong leader are two very different things. A leader is someone people want to follow. If people don't follow you, you aren't a leader. You're just taking a walk.

Having leadership skills is an essential part of being a good manager. A manager's primary function is to get the most out of her team/assets - essentially to maximise the output of the organisation.

Implementing Denise's tips has been transformative. I feel more confident that I know how my team feels. I thought I knew before, now I know that I know. We take 45 minutes out of the office, fortnightly, on a one-to-one basis. This allows us to catch up and gives me time to really listen. Again, I thought I was listening, but how could I have been with all the noise and distractions of an office buzzing around us? Now our one to one time is meaningful, instilling mutual confidence. So simple, but so powerful.

Life lesson learned: do not underestimate the power of listening, really listening, that's one of the keys to becoming a good manager.