Success Starts With The Retail Leader

Success Starts With The Retail Leader

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As a leader, you do have a choice as to how you prioritize your time and the components of the business that you have an impact on; there are unlimited possibilities when it comes to which decisions to make yourself and those that you delegate to others. How do you determine the where to focus your efforts? How to use your knowledge and experience? What has the greatest impact and what will deliver the great value to the business?

It’s not about what you enjoy doing or where your strengths are; it’s about where OTHERS will realize the maximum benefit if you focus your decision-making time there. –  Roy Osing

By focusing on the high-impact, high-value decisions and taking deliberate actions that are aligned with these priorities, you will establish the direction of success for your team and the organization. According to Mr. Osing, a leading executive in Canadian business and a recognized blogger, speaker, seminar leader, business consultant, educator and personal coach, a great place to start with this important leadership initiative are specifically with these decision-making issues:

  • The strategic game plan for the organization. Leadership value starts with deciding on the organization’s future and by maintaining the integrity of the retail organizations mission statement, brand promise, and values. And it should be created by the leader and not chosen from a number of options submitted by others. What business you intend to be in and how you intend to differentiate yourself from your competition can only be decided by the leader who is directly accountable to ownership of the objective and the leadership of their team. Your team will look to you to establish the strategy of the business. They will want to be involved in how it is achieved, and they’ll probably have some innovative ideas – but you will need to help them stay on track and deliver the most effective and high-impact outcome.
  • The values that shape culture. Values define our brand, our culture, our customer experience delivery, and  how employees behave, interact with, and treat each other inside each retail organization. The leader must support the company values and define and model other values that are critical to their strategic success and they must make the call on eliminating the traditional values that are no longer appropriate to the business. Values are fluid – if you are hiring and developing top talent that embody respect, trust, and integrity – those things will be the “norm” in the business – then those behaviors/competencies become noise [and boring] as values. Embrace other behaviors [empowerment, innovation, etc.] that you hope to instill in your team as valuable career capital to their future growth and the benefit of your current business initiatives.
  • The talent that gets recruited. As just mentioned, as the retail leader assigned with the task of creating, while building and developing a strong team – you will be hiring talent that complements your existing team. Strategy and values are the determinants of the talent you recruit. You must have your fingerprints on the “people strategy” of your business. The wrong people in critical [and even non-critical] roles will drive your strategy to fail and the time needed to fix and manage the people issues will pull focus and time away from other crucial priorities.
  • The “customer moment” architecture. If you are not personally involved in defining what the customer experience with the organization “looks like”, dysfunction results; everyone does their own thing and offers up their own version and interpretation of what a great customer experience looks like. As a retail leader, you must decide what the moment looks like at the customer facing level where customer perception is controlled. By guiding your team as they deliver a consistently high-level of customer experience, you will be supporting the brand growth and advocacy as well as organizational health.
  • Aligning activities with the game plan. Aligning activities is where most things go wrong. The strategy says one thing but the people in the various functions behave in a manner inconsistent with the chosen direction because they prioritize differently and translate things differently. Communication is key when delivering a strategic plan to your team. Ensuring that there is involvement and the sharing of ideas will help ensure that your team is aligned with the plan and that there is a collective understanding of the goals and objective of the initiative.

As a retail leader, your ability to negotiate, communicate, influence, and persuade others to carry out the organizational strategy is indispensable to everything you accomplish in your professional life. The most effective leaders are those who can competently organize the cooperation and assistance of other people to accomplish goals and objectives.

You learn to become a leader by doing what other leaders [both the good and the bad] you have worked with – have done. You become proficient in your job, and then you become proficient at understanding the motivations and behaviors of other people. As a leader, you combine your personal competencies with the competencies of others into a smoothly functioning and thoroughly aligned and passionate team that can outplay and outperform all its competitors.

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Genesis of High Performing Teams

To determine what these skills are, you need to consider the genesis of high-performing teams. These initial steps are a tad pedestrian but critical to team development and success when presented and managed in an engaging and energizing way:

  • Forming
    The forming stage is very important, perhaps even critical, to the success of the team. As mentioned earlier, your ability to select the proper team members to accomplish the goals and objective of the organization is the mark of the superior leader. In the forming stage, the team members come together and begin to get a feel for each other. There will be a good deal of adjustment and the forming of friendly alliances between team members. This stage, especially the discussions and conversations that take place, may seem time consuming, but necessary to developing a unified group of people that will be involved participants of the business.
  • Storming
    The second stage of team development is storming, a shortened form of “brainstorming.” During this stage, the group, begins the hard work of offering innovative ideas and dialog around those suggestions to achieve business objectives, dividing up the tasks and getting started. During the storming phase, people learn about the contributions each member can make to achieve the team’s objectives.
  • Norming
    The third stage of team development is norming. This is when norms and standards are established among the team members so that everyone feels secure and confident in his or her place and there is respect and trust. All members know what’s expected and how their performance will be measured. They also are aware of the responsibilities and obligations that they have, not only to the job, but to each other. Your ability as a leader to promote the norming process is critical to the team’s success.
  • Performing
    The fourth stage of team development is performing. In the final analysis, your ability to get results is all that really matters. Your professional reputation, the respect and esteem you earn from your team, your colleagues, and bosses will all be determined by your ability to perform and to get others to perform and how well they deliver on the objectives.

As you make the high-value decisions that guide the success of your team, it is beneficial to remember that there are essentially five qualities you need to foster, as a leader, throughout the stages of team development. The degree to which you accomplish this will determine your success as the leader and the success of the team members and collective unit.

  1. Shared values. Remember…people will contribute to the values they consider the most important.
  2. Shared objectives. Leaders can see and articulate the big picture. They’re absolutely clear about what they want to accomplish and what success will look like. They have the ability to articulate this vision in the minds and hearts of others and to get everyone galvanized, and working together toward the realization of that vision.
  3. Shared activities. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to contribute to achieving the team’s goals and objectives. They also know what each of the other members is expected to do. All the work is clearly divided up among the team members, and everyone knows their role in the process.
  4. An accessible and engaging leader. You support your team  and are involved in the process without getting in their way. You look for ways to make processes more effective and efficient for your team members and eliminate things that don’t bring value to the objective. You accept complete responsibility for achieving the overall goal. You carefully prioritize your time. You assign recognition and accept blame
  5. Team members expect, accept, and learn from performance guidance. Your team proactively wants to know, “How am I/are we doing, and how can I/we do better?” Great teams set incredible standards of excellence and are constantly striving to be better both as individual contributors and as a collective team.

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The exciting thing about the role of a retail leader is that you can practice the skills of influencing and persuading others toward a common objective, instill career collateral, and support your team’s growth. You can promote the principles of superior teamwork by establishing team values and goals and helping your team understand how they impact the organizations, determining your activities, and leading the action.

One of the marks of excellent leaders is that they never compare themselves with others. They only compare themselves with themselves and with their past achievements and future potential for growth and professional accomplishment. The more proficient you become at delivering results over and above what your company expects, the more opportunities you will have to get results through others and to celebrate, ruthlessly recognize, and reward them for their outstanding performance and contribution. Success is contagious and you have an amazing opportunity to share the experience with your team and develop emerging leaders in the process that also understand how to deliver great…just not “good enough”.


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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