The Leadership Academy CEO Dianne Sharp.
Jane Imrie

Bdaily Festive Focus 2020: The Leadership Academy CEO and “traditional girl at heart” Dianne Sharp is hopeful for a magical Christmas

With a week to go until Christmas Eve, Bdaily spoke with The Leadership Academy CEO Dianne Sharp about how living in the moment has helped her deal with the year’s curveballs and her ideal traditional Christmas.

How has 2020 changed the way that you live, work, and think?

“I think I’ve definitely learnt to focus on the present and what you have right now, because who knows what tomorrow will bring? 2020 has brought so many curveballs and obstacles that we’ve had to adapt to quickly and it’s been a hard time for businesses in all sectors.

“For me, living in the moment has been imperative not just for us as a business, but for our clients as well.

“By focusing on where we are now, appreciating it and working towards improving that, that’s what will put us in the best position to tackle what’s to come. It’s also been important to step back and really look at what actually matters, both personally and in business.

What has been your single biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?

“At the start of the year we were getting ready to open the doors to our brand new co-working space in Sunderland and the pandemic completely put that on hold.

“After spending time getting the space ready and putting processes in place to make bookings easy, it was disheartening to not share our new venture with the world straight away, especially when we’d built up so much excitement internally.

“However, we’ve maintained an ‘always ready’ mentality so that as soon as we get the green light, we will be able to open immediately.

“Even though this may have initially been a challenge, we have managed to use this extra time to really refine what it is that people will want from a co-working space and we’ve had the opportunity to speak to individuals more about what they would really benefit from.”

What has been the biggest unexpected positive to come out of this year?

“The additional time saved from not driving to and from appointments. When you’re in the day-to-day and attending meetings all over the region, it’s easy to get caught up and not realise how time consuming travelling can be.

“The lack of travel has actually given me more time to work on the business and whereas too many video calls can be draiting at times, they definitely offer a more flexible way of working so that you can use that additional time where it really makes a difference.”

What does your ideal Christmas look like?

“I’m a traditional girl at heart so for me, it’s loads of decorations, lights, turkey with all of the trimmings and the whole family together along with the Queen’s speech!

“I don’t think anyone really knows how Christmas is actually going to look this year but I’m sure everyone is going to be trying to make it as magical as possible, especially after the year we’ve all had!”

How do you think people and businesses can support each other during 2020’s festive season?

“I think that one of the positive things to come out of the pandemic is the sense of community we now all have. Both personally and professionally, we’re seeing people communicating more with each other and banding together.

“Because of this, it’s become more important for us to reach out and genuinely ask if people are OK. From neighbours to local businesses, we all need a little more support and I think it’s especially crucial over the festive period.”

What does 2021 look like for you and your business?

“We have a really exciting 2021 coming up and we’re all ready to go! We’re hoping to see the proper launch of HUB@56 and welcome people in to make the most out of our co-working space.

“We’ve been working on a whole range of options for individuals as well, meaning it’s going to be accessible for everyone, no matter what stage you’re at in your business.

“We are also planning to launch a virtual version of our Leadership Development Programme in the new year, which we’ve developed to reflect the current environment. It also means we can reach potential leaders from outside of the region, which is fantastic.

“Finally, we’ve been working on the expansion of our assessment and online tools so that learners can access our services from the click of a button. As you can see we’ve been busy elves and we’re so excited to see what 2021 holds.”

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