High-Resolution Leadership

I admit it, I am a bit of data nerd.  I actually get really excited when new statistical reports are released. Recently, DDI  released “High-Resolution Leadership: A collection of findings that reflect how leadership shapes today’s business landscape.” The information contained in this collection of reports is very high-value and important to the future of our industry, talent, organizational development, and growth:


Here is how we stack up in our industry. In Retail, our strengths, overall, are:

• Business Savvy
• Coaching & Developing others
• Compelling Communication
• Cultivating Networks

We rank as “mid-range” with:

• Building Organizational Talent
• Customer Focus (really?!?)
• Driving Execution
• Driving For Results
• Inspiring Excellence
• Operational Decision Making

We are down in in VUCA vortex rankings. How I interpret this is that we are focused on communicating with our team to ensure engagement but it is ineffective in communicating with them for results and growth. We are enthusiastic in how we share information but we aren’t creating enough action with the information that we are sharing. That is key. It seems we may be over-communicating “fluff” and not enough high-value content at this point to deliver results in productivity, learning, and profitability.


This shows “Leadership Skills Ranking” from 2006- 2014. Here is first to worst:

• Operational Decision Making [up 1 spot in eight years]
• Customer Focus [down 1 spot in eight years]
• Cultivating Networks [up 1 spot in eight years]
• Leading Change [up 1 spot in eight years]
• Driving Execution [down 2 spots in eight years]
• Empowerment/Delegation [up 4 spots in eight years]
• Establishing Strategic Direction [up 2 spots in eight years]
• Coaching and Developing Others [down 1 spot in two years]
• Entrepreneurship [down 3 spots in eight years]
• Building Organizational Talent [down 2 spots in eight years]

What this is telling me is that we are not hiring for tomorrow but hiring for today and the past. We are hiring for compliance (delegation, decision making) but not hiring for a profitable tomorrow (coaching, development, execution, building talent). Which means that we are, in essence, sabotaging our business by not focusing on organization talent, development, and actually getting things done [execution]. This is invaluable information if we are hoping to put planning and action behind initiatives that will improve our businesses and set us up for future leadership in retail.


There are five competencies that are found to, organically, drive profit:

• Entrepreneurship [which is slowing declining]
• Business Savvy [which is a strength in our industry…yay!]
• Driving Execution [opportunity]
• Decision Making
• Leading Change [opportunity]


As for “soft-skills”:

Empathy takes the lead in desirable leadership behaviors that drive engagement and results. Here is what follows it:

(2) Involvement
(3) Clarity
(4) Open Communication
(5) Support
(6) Agree
(7) Esteem
(8) Development


According to this DDI study “We found two skills that even long-tenured executives rarely master: coaching and selling the vision”. Both of these things are critical and necessary to driving talent development and revenue growth. I am not surprised these things are together as opportunities as they go hand in hand in retail. Daily conversations about the organization’s vision and values should be taking place to support the importance of the components that drive the business. After all, it is the backbone of the organization and the driving forced behind all company initiatives. In “Customer Focus” there is “Low/No Growth”. We know that consumers are choosing experiences over “stuff”. So we are already facing a challenge with declining foot traffic. What that means is that we have to sell more to the people that come in and are interested in spending with us – this can only be done through customer focus and developing the skills to drive experience. Allowing our teams and our employees to understand our vision and coaching how that message should be interpreted in the form of delivering a memorable and appealing shopping experience is absolutely necessary to our growth.


This report gives us clear direction on how to improve our business results and outlook for the future of our industry. Where we are excelling and where our strengths lay and how to improve our leadership opportunity areas.

We need to be concerned with developing tomorrow’s leaders. This places particular importance on key issues and areas of concern specific to the industry image and impact on recruitment and retention; employee and management skills gaps; and barriers to training. This gives us that starting point. How do we improve the areas that we are slow to no growth in? How do we drive improvement to the mid-range areas (especially customer focus)? How do we continue to leverage our “strengths” as we focus on the other areas?

All of these summations [there are 18 in all] deliver clear direction and value to our future performance as effective leaders in retail. We have the opportunity to improve results inside such targeted areas of the business that will support the future of our talent development and leadership as it relates to maximizing productivity, profitability, and growth inside our retail organizations. And I will absolutely be partnering with IT Leadership I know as they have the strengths that we are only “mid-range” on.

What do you think of the reports? I would love to hear in the comments section how you interpret these findings and how you will use them to implement training/development for your teams?


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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