How To Reinvent Your Retail Leadership Style

How To Reinvent Your Retail Leadership Style


In Retail there are so many reasons to reinvent yourself. Whether it’s because you feel you need an overall change or that your role has become a little stagnant and you need a boost. Maybe you feel like you have been losing momentum with your team or you have started recognizing that you have been taking their actions and/or results for granted. We all have a frequent opportunity to take a step back and assess our style, infuse some energy, and make adjustments to maximize the impact of our leadership and how it effects our personal/professional happiness and the professional happiness of those around us.

Maybe we have been in our role for a few years and we are becoming restless and slightly complacent with our job description and how we are utilized. This is the perfect opportunity to look at what we can do to re-energize our style, our outlook, and our professional growth. This is more than just being a polished version of yourself or looking into a lateral move from your current company to a new company. We’re talking about a “reset button” reinvention—a reinvention that changes you and your outlook – an overhaul in what you believe and how you do your job.

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Here Are A Few Ideas To Help You Embrace Professional Reinvention

  • Do Work That Matters: If you feel as though you have strayed from the Company Mission Statement & Value – reacquaint yourself with them. Study them, what inspired you when you started? Reignite the passion you had for your company, your leaders, your role when you first started. Define what truly matters? Helping people – your customers, your team members, your boss. Making every day count matters and that is within your power.
  • Realize That Reinvention Never Actually Stops: As Retail Leaders we are masters of change and resourcefulness we are constantly looking for ways to communicate in a way that resonates with both individuals and the collective team. For example, we know that as leaders in retail it is our job to deliver information, communication and news in an inspirational way. For example – we receive communication from our bosses that isn’t very inspiring or sometimes we receive communication that is ambiguous or confusing. As leaders we take the information, repackage it, and share it enthusiastically with direction and confidence to ensure compliance and understanding. We do this to give our teams their best shot at success. Understanding we are programmed as leaders to accept and embrace change we need to be introspective about how we can embrace and deliver change in our own style and how to fill in gaps that may exist.
  • Create New Labels For Your Leadership: Everything you have labeled yourself as…”Dynamic”, “Energetic”, “Inspiring”…forget them. Work on creating new competencies and leadership adjectives for yourself. If you are dynamic and identify that quality in yourself – it’s here to stay…work on competencies that you want to be famous for. Things that aren’t just “noise” in retail [let’s face it…we’re all dynamic, right?!]. What that means is that you need to dig into your style through self-development and self-learning opportunities to find your latent leadership potential.
  • Find An Awesome Mentor: From James Altucher:
    • Direct. Someone who is in front of you who will show you how they did it. What is “it”?
    • Indirect. Books. You can outsource 90% of mentor-ship to books and other materials. 200-500 books equals one good mentor. People ask me, “What is a good book to read?” I never know the answer. There are 200-500 good books to read. I would throw in inspirational books. Whatever are your beliefs, underline them through reading every day.
    • EVERYONE is a mentor: The good, bad, and ugly leader(s) that you have worked with in the past or that you currently work with – you can learn from all of them [equally valuable lessons, too]. Some of my worst bosses have made me the strong retail leader I am today and I have grown to appreciate those experiences.
  • Use Social Media To Connect and Learn: Social Media is not all about how many followers you have or likes/favorites you get but about connecting with people that are going to help you bring out your best self. People that are indirectly mentors. People that inspire you and motivate you to try and to learn new things and new styles. If you’re keeping score of how many followers you have, how many comments you get or how big your online footprint is to gauge or measure your “popularity”, then you’re measuring the wrong things, and you’re absolutely distracting yourself from what matters. Social media and digital media can offer you a chance to make real connections, earn permission and gain insights from people you’d never have a chance to interact with any other way and that is a very cool opportunity. “We grew up isolated. The future is connected. We grew up unable to have substantial interactions with anyone except a small circle of family and co-workers. Now we can earn the right to interact with just about anyone. I think this changes everything—if we let it.” [Source: Success]
  • Be Patient – Reinvention Takes Time: I cannot tell you how true this is. You can’t wake up in the morning reinvented on the inside. You need to read, observe, and ask questions around the behaviors you admire. You have to take the time for self-assessment and to find the things that excite you and scare you a little bit.  Commit to be a willing student for at least three months before you have the comfort and the knowledge to start implementing what you are learning. If you get antsy, share with your team what you are actively learning. Let them know that you are looking forward to teaching them when you have mastered some new areas of leadership. The professional choices you make today will be your professional bio starting tomorrow.
  • Acknowledge & Overcome “The Resistance”: ‘The Resistance” – that annoying little voice in your head that keeps you down and encourages you to follow instructions and do what everyone else is doing. ‘The Resistance’ lives in fear and doesn’t hesitate to shut us down at the first sign of possible challenge. ‘The Resistance’ is the voice complicit in “good enough”, because ‘The Resistance’ is easy an excuse. When your boss tells you to do something a particular way because “that’s how we’ve always done it” – and you do it that way…’The Resistance’ wins. What leaders, over time, have figured out is that ‘The Resistance’ is the sole barrier between today and their success, that the act of genius required to produce original and important work is crippled by ‘The Resistance’. Ignoring the voice of skepticism is necessary if you want to deliver greatness. As leaders, we need to create a safe place for our team to learn, fail, and ultimately succeed. We owe that same consideration to ourselves. Don’t let anyone tell you what your capable of in retail.
  • SHIP: Scarcity creates value. People pay extra for things that are hard to get, while things that have a surplus go cheaply. That’s basic economics. The ability to ship.If you can get something out the door while your competitors cringe in fear, you win. If you’re the team member who makes things happen, you become indispensable. Shipping is unique because of ‘The Resistance’ – it doesn’t want you to ship, because if you ship, you might fail. If you ship, people might laugh at you. If you ship, you might be held accountable for the decisions you made. The key to the reinvention of who you are, then, is to become someone who ships. The goal is to have the rare skill of actually getting things done, making them happen and creating outcomes that people seek out. [Source: Success] Sometimes you win by default when everyone else is too afraid to start or too tired to continue. If you can commit to doing the work and pushing through each day you will succeed. Talent is great, but it is useless if you’re afraid, lazy or overconfident. I this concept of “SHIP” by the way…to deliver something completely unique and rare to your team, your customers, and your Company – it gives us an exciting edge that not many people have the chutzpah to deliver on.
  • Failing Is Okay. Not trying or giving into “The Resistance” is absolutely not. Understanding that adopting another person’s approach to something may not be the right course of action for you. You need to find your style and confidence in how you perform a new task in your professional life. This involves trial and error. When you are unreasonably self-critical you are setting yourself up with your personal resistance and “average” will win. Don’t give up. Reinvent your approach to reinvention. Actions and words need to be organic to your personality – otherwise your presentation or “style” will be awkward and it will come across as disingenuous and lacking confidence.

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Being in retail for such a long time I am constantly reinventing and challenging my self to be better, smarter, more interesting, more productive, stronger, accessible, and more supportive than I was yesterday. I have seen leaders become bored and disenchanted with their roles and and poison their teams because they have given up. I have seen executive leaders and leadership teams, through inflexibility and ego, destroy the morale and actual retail organizations and then move on to another organization only to destroy that business as well because they expected the employees, the customer, and the industry to adapt to them. It doesn’t work like that. In order to get better results we need to be the catalyst for change and improvement. It starts with us. Once we realize that and we commit to reinventing and improving ourselves and serving as inspiration to others…the sky is the limit for our team and ourselves [and we will rarely find ourselves bored or without challenge and intrigue in our roles].


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 | [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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