10 Signs You’re An Excellent Retail Boss

 Signs You’re An Excellent Retail Boss

Of course we would all love to think that we are great retail leaders to work for. Especially when we invest the time and effort to build an amazing team and commit to bringing people in that complement it, consistently. We strive to support our teams by building career collateral and uncovering their latent talents to give them their best career growth opportunities and path.

There are certain qualities that are necessary to be an effective leader: transparency, honesty, integrity, respect, optimism, bias towards action, forward-thinking…the list goes on. As retail leaders we need to possess a lot of competencies and skills to be the best leader for our individual team members and our collective team.

However, there are lots of clues and signs that you are doing your best for your team and your customer – going above and beyond – and supporting an excellent culture. Some are very vivid and loud declarations of your commitment to excellence and other results are quieter but have just as large of an impact – possibly an even greater  impact – on your leadership and professional reputation.

10 Signs You Are An Awesome Boss

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  • You Let Employees Be Themselves: Still, too frequently, we see retailers whose ultimate aim it is to homogenize their teams, they speak to hiring innovative, unique, and talented individuals but what they really want is a team of people who are sheep and who follow directions. People who don’t rock the boat or question authority. Excellent retail leaders know that our people are THE foundation of company culture. We need to build a diverse, interesting, and inclusive business team that reflects the communities and customers we strive to impress and engage. As a great leader you value everyone’s contributions and quirks in your business. This gives your team personality and the opportunity to stand out in an industry where many retailers hire individuals and transform them into people who are simply compliant.
  • You Don’t Micro-Manage: Again, we hire the most talented, driven, awesome individuals to join our teams why would we want – or even need – to closely “manage” their processes. Great leaders give these remarkable employees the autonomy to lead their business to greatness in their way. We provide tools, resources, and support/guidance to them – but our priority is not to dictate their day-to-day activities – but to grow their competencies. Which means we leverage their strengths and develop their opportunity areas. We’re not parental, we are mentors and business partners to smart, savvy, competent, and innovative retail leaders. If we aren’t hiring talent to these qualities – we can’t possibly be great leaders.


  • You’re Self-Aware: Awesome leaders have the capacity for introspection. They recognize above all else they are human beings with strengths and flaws. We don’t try to hide our flaws but we do work on improving them and we can share our stories with our team members to help them also become self-aware as they are developing new leadership competencies. Awesome leaders don’t spend time comparing themselves to others – they work and deliver results that bring them personal and professional satisfaction and pride and help drive their teams to success.
  • You Have Created A Healthy Culture of Balanced And On-Going Feedback: Awesome bosses don’t wait until their team members make a mistake to “coach” them. They are accessible and present consistently, they recognize results and contribution and they guide performance opportunities. Their teams ALWAYS know where they stand and how their results fit in with the team’s aggregate results. Team members of great bosses strive to improve their softer results because they want to contribute to the exceptional team in the most positive way. People on teams like this don’t get defensive when feedback and guidance is presented candidly and truly tremendous bosses know this is the best way to deliver information.

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  • You Lead With Kindness: This also reflects truly exceptional leadership being human beings. Out in the world – we say things like “please” and “thank you” but some retail leaders forget to bring human kindness into their areas of responsibility. Truly valuable retail bosses are considerate, kind, and understanding. We consider things like what life stage our team members are at and react to the nuances of these things with empathy. Great leaders are strong and have incredible common sense as well as the ability to identfiy intuition as a form of intelligence. I say this because – we also know when our team members or others may attempt to see our kindness as a weakness they attempt to use to exploit the leader’s kindness – spectacular bosses know how to handle this swiftly and set the tone for fairness and responsibility.
  • You Praise Publicly: Awesome bosses praise and reward their people. They celebrate successes and contributions – not only for their teams but for all of their colleagues. They lead by example and understand that their region, district, or department is only a part of the business and that others contribute to the results, too. They set the standard that all great performance deserves recognition.

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  • You Bring Structure & Understanding: At times retail can be a little chaotic and confused – it is the responsibility of the retail leader to bring clarity to these moments and the great ones do, consistently. Whereas average leaders use chaos as an excuse not to take action – great bosses use chaos and confusion as a call to action. They know how to engage and energize their team through communication. They understand how to bring direction and focus into blurry direction. They, again, use intuition and experience as a form of intelligence and can bring context and focus to tasks, projects, and assignments to get the team to where it needs to be.
  • You’re Charismatic: A truly great and memorable boss draws people out. Charisma is measured by a leader’s ability to release others into a more enjoyable state of communicating and collaborating. A tremendous boss does this by being curious, asking questions, listening, and being optimistic. Charismatic leaders are influential, persuasive, and engaging. They spend time learning about the individuals on their team so that they can communicate effectively with each person and with the collective team. They could never adopt a “one size fits all approach” to leadership – they leave that for the mediocre leaders.

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  • You Value Feedback: Excellent leaders seek to understand what they are doing well or where they have to reinvent or reshape their performance they do this by consistently soliciting feedback – both casual and formal – from their team members, their superiors, their colleagues. They take very clear action on their opportunity areas which shows their team members that they take their role seriously and value their opinions.
  • You Create Defined Signature Relationship Practices: These are the qualities your team displays and possesses that create a culture by design rather than default. These are the qualities that make your team sustainable and difficult to copy. They are the direction and passion of the team that enhance the organization’s vision and values and bring them to life inside your area of responsibility. These practices are the deliberate, unique, and relentless way you and your team achieve results consistently.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | beth@excellencein-retail.com [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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7 thoughts on “10 Signs You’re An Excellent Retail Boss

  1. I very much liked this article, in today’s ever changing world of retail it is vital to understand, that the biggest impact you can have on growth is spending time with your people defining your leadership culture.

  2. All ten behaviors are important. My favorite though and the hardest promise to keep is #4, – You Have Created A Healthy Culture of Balanced And On-Going Feedback-.

    Nothing tells your people that you are engaged in helping them succeed like ongoing scheduled one on one’s.

  3. Many people have these qualities it’s knowing when and having the ability to call on the correct qualities at the appropriate time!Spot on as usual Elizabeth!

  4. First time I read you, first time I enjoy. It helps keep in mind the relevant bullets to be self critical.

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