Invested, Involved, And Interested Retail Leadership Is Important – Here’s Why…

Invested, Involved, And Interested Retail Leadership Is Important – Here’s Why…

Strategy Executive Company Root conducted a survey of workplace employees and found some pretty shocking perceptions that employee have of their organizations leaders:

  • Many workers seem to doubt the ability of leaders to make workplaces run smoothly, drive accountability, and inspire risk-taking. 43% of employees believe that individual employees, not leaders, have the biggest impact on a company’s culture;
  • This disconnect between employees and leadership might be because 68% of workers feel that most of their company’s leaders are better at their own jobs than inspiring others to excel;
  • Only 22% of workers feel that upper management truly has the best interests of most of their employees at heart;
  • Only 48% of employees think that these executives are committed to the company’s vision
  • Only 46% of employee believe the leaders have the organization’s best interests at heart.
  • Almost half (49%) of the nation’s workforce feel that their leaders are genuine or authentic in their actions only sometimes, at best, if not less often;
  • When asked, “How often do you think your company’s leaders are being genuine or authentic when they communicate with the rest of the company:
    • 18% said “always”
    • 33% said “frequently”
    • 32% said “sometimes”
    • 14% said “rarely”
    • 3% said “never”
According to a study conducted by Michelle McQuaid, a world leader in positive psychology interventions in the workplace:
  • 65% of respondents say a better boss would make them happy while 35% choose a pay raise!
  • Only 38% of those polled describe their boss as “great,” with 42% saying their bosses don’t work very hard and close to 20% saying their boss has little or no integrity;
  • When stress levels rise at work, a disturbing 47% say their boss does not stay calm and in control.

I don’t know any company culture that would actually condone their leaders being honest and transparent only “sometimes”, but because that is the perception of the employees – that is the reality of the situation – and when the moments occur that the leader is not being honest is missed/overlooked/ignored in the organization and without consequence, it is viewed as acceptable. These destructive leadership behaviors are hurting employees ability to work and it is muddying the meaning & purpose of their roles and place inside the organization.

Being a leader is about finding the best talent and being able to identify high-potential talent and instilling confidence in people to help them discover their passions and show them they are capable of more than they believed themselves to be. Based on these study results – 68% of leaders are so consumed with protecting their own jobs and driving their own agenda – which doesn’t include or allow time for inspiring their team – which, by definition, is our primary role. This means the impression we are giving some employees of leadership is that it is hypocritical, contradictory, and selfish.

If you perform a Google search for “Types of Bosses” it will yield approximately 18,400,000 results. That’s an overwhelming variety of bosses. Here are some of the descriptive categories you will find:

The Workaholic • The Traditionalist • The Power Hungry • The Yeller • The Scary • The Nitpicker • The Micromanager • The Pushover • The Idiot • The Under-qualified • The Eccentric • The Missing In Action • The Martyr • The Fearmonger • The Paranoid Boss

Inside these articles you will frequently find a plethora of advice on how to manage your boss if they are any of the “The” type of bosses. So…the employees have to learn to manage their bosses behavior and personality in order to create a tenable work environment. That is craziness. There is frequently only one positive descriptor and that’s “The Good Boss”.  “The Good Boss” consistently lives at the bottom of every list and it has the shortest description.

It is clear that most workplaces are gasping for air. If we are objective about our business and we look at some of quantifiable results in employee engagement, retention, absenteeism – we can, soberly, see that there are opportunities in the leadership level of the business to elevate leader presence, their involvement, and a critical need for many leaders to reinvent their style to resonate in a positive way with their team members. What is clear is that we cannot continue with business as usual.

As humans we have this innate ability called “The Theory Of Mind” and essentially what that means when I look at you, I have a sense of where you’re going and you have a sense of where I’m going. We have an enormous capability by just looking at the person we are interacting with, and particularly if we’re having a conversation and we are involved and present, to predict certain aspects of future events.  I believe this ability is magnified, at least a small degree, in people who choose to go into leadership. In order to be effective leaders we need to be able to identify strengths and opportunities of our employees just through our involvement and interaction. Oftentimes, especially in our emerging leader category of employee in retail, our team members are challenged to articulate what they are great at or what they want to learn more of. It is through our ability to helping them identify and leverage their strengths and help them recognize and action their opportunity areas that we help guide our team in their development and on their career path. If we are anything but a present, accessible, engaging manager – this process can’t/won’t work.

In an unfortunate amount of cases, “today’s workplace is hardly a reflection of our best work. Choking the workplace and creating intolerable work environments are outdated manager mindsets about the role work plays in people’s lives and in society. Making matters worse, moldy cultures and climates linger. Workplace fulfillment is absent.” [Source: TalentCulture]


What Can Leaders To Do Energize Their Leadership And Culture?

 1. Magnify Meaning & Purpose

Articulate, recognize, and appreciate how individual contribution fits in with store, district, region, department, and company goals and objectives. Be the champion and the role model for the organization’s founding principles.  Energize and encourage strong workplace collaboration and your commitment to being a business partner to your team. Frequently engage in conversation with the individuals and create a culture of transparency so that they know where they stand and they feel comfortable telling you, from their point of view, what resources or support they need from you to help them achieve greatness.

2. Cultivate A Positive and Solution Oriented Culture

Involve your employees in business obstacles or challenges. They live and breathe the business every day (especially if the challenge reside in the field operations or customer experience arena) and may have suggestions that can help improve the business. Be honest with your team members and communicate with them openly. Hold yourself and your team accountable to focus on what can be done and not to waste time on what cannot and why.

3. Give Your Team Their Best Shot

In the grand scheme of things our team members want pretty basic qualities in their leader: The ability to inspire and motivate them, empathy, and involvement. They believe those three (or four, depending how you look at it) qualities are the catalyst for elevated engagement, productivity, and results.  They also encourages growth and self-directed learning in our team members. You become a mentor and a trust-worthy business partner when you are involved and invested in their success.  As leaders we are either part of the energy problem or part of its solution. There is no third option. We need to ask those we’re trying to lead or influence about how we are doing, frequently.

From Harvard Business Review: “Energizing leaders do five things very well. They create a compelling vision by focusing on possibilities rather than current or past problems. They help others feel fully engaged. And while they’re doing that, energizers are also learning from their colleagues. Energizers are goal-oriented but flexible about how to get there–they allow progress to occur in unexpected ways. Finally, energizers speak their mind, maintaining integrity and alignment between their words and actions. This influences others’ willingness to believe that the goal is worthy and attainable.”

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4. Choose to Be An Energizing Leader

Remember – energizing behavior is about letting other people know they matter. For example when engaging with your team members, you devote your physical presence and undivided attention to that person. That shows them that you are there for them and that, in itself, is engaging and energizing. People don’t have to initially like their leader in order to be energized. The ability to energize isn’t a function of a person’s personality; it has to do with their behaviors exhibited in their interactions with their team.

“If the leadership team is energized, the organization will perform at higher levels. Employees will become inspired, passionate, and willing to go the extra mile for the company to be successful. Energized employees, in turn, motivate customers to take their business relationship with the organization to the next level.” [Source: Inspired Executives]

Retail organizations have an incredible pool of positive energy waiting to be released. And that is the responsibility of the leader – to find a way to tap into that energy, direct it and multiply it throughout the organization.  We hold the key to repairing the perceptions that our team has of our leadership and our organizations. Only we can take action and address the issues outlined at the beginning of this article and by taking deliberate steps to understand, repair, clarify, and improve the opinions our employees have of us and of the organization. Doing this will engage and electrify the individuals, their productivity, their happiness and job satisfaction, and ultimately their results.


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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