You May Be A Bad Retail Leader If…

You May Be A Bad Retail Leader If…

It is an unfortunate reality that we have significantly more ineffective and banal “managers” in retail. So many use outdated practices based on old-school leadership theories and principles. We know that most “managers” are simply “good enough” or mediocre, at best. But that is not going to keep our industry healthy or allow us the ability to grow our brands and brand reputation to our customers or potential talent.

Interestingly, as the Wall Street Journal states, “Gallup has found that only three out of ten bosses have the natural or coachable talent to become great at managing people. The company says that such people motivate their employees, assert themselves to overcome obstacles, create a culture of accountability, build trusting relationships and make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and company. Sadly, only 10% of managers display all five talents, and another 20% possess some of those traits and can be taught the others“. Can you believe, in the United States, 19.2 hours are wasted every week?! 13 during the workweek and 6.2 over the weekend – worrying about what the bad boss says or does? This statistic is staggering and a little depressing.

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It’s not easy being a remarkable leader. But hanging onto terrible habits or stale processes and policies make it hard to be a good one. One sign of a great leader is self-awareness. Being objective and open to improving our performance to ensure that we are leading our teams in the most successful way possible.

5 Signs You Need To Reinvent Your Leadership Approach

  • You Lose Your Temper: There is simply no excuse for this. In the last six months I have had eight email exchanges with people about how explosive their “leader” is and how they can manage this aspect of their boss’ personality. This is a tough situation and I am always surprised that this type of manager still exists in our workplace. I experienced two bosses early on in my career with terrible tempers but it has been approximately 12 years since I have seen a boss seriously lose their cool in the workplace. This type of leader is definitely one of the tougher ones to deal with. Depending on the severity of their temper and frequency of their outbursts, it may be worth looking elsewhere for a work environment and culture that is conducive with kindness and respect. I am not a big proponent of employees having to learn how to manage their boss – however, if you enjoy your job and you want to salvage it, Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job,” recommends the “calm” method:
    • Communicate more frequently and in a venue that works for your boss;
    • Anticipate problems before they worsen, and have solutions;
    • Laugh: use levity to help your boss keep a rational perspective;
    • Manage up: set limits with your bosses diplomatically, and let them see the benefits of your suggestions.

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  • You Assign Blame: This is a credibly killer and calls into question your leadership integrity. Spreading blame around to team members and gossiping about who missed what deadline or who didn’t deliver, and not accepting any blame yourself, is a recipe for a toxic and unhappy work environment. After all, it is the leader who is ultimately always responsible for their team’s success or failure. It is important to reflect on this habit – if it is one you display – to build a strategy for thriving in a healthy and supportive workplace. If you’re comfortable throwing blame around, there’s a good chance it is due to the fact that you are producing less than acceptable results as a leader and are using your team as an excuse for your inability to deliver.
  • You Call/Email Your Employees When They Are Off/Outside Business Hours: Weak and ineffective leaders are those that still use the gauge of employee’s willingness to work endless hours by answering work phone calls outside of their scheduled hours, either from you or their team of direct reports,  or responding to emails at all hours as a sign of loyalty and job dedication. Great retail leaders discuss the expectation of work and time needed, develop strong time management and prioritization skills, and model a strong sense of work/life balance. Remarkable leaders value the high-level of productivity that comes with balance and work hard to ensure it for themselves and their team members.

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  • You Only Talk About Work: Ineffective leadership often talks about work on a granular level. Giving their employees a laundry list of to-do’s and compliance assignments. Failing to make a connection between the tasks/projects assigned or failing to give work with mean and purpose to the organization’s goals and objectives is a sign of a not-so-great boss. Leaders that fail to take an interest in an employee’s career development is a problem for most valuable and ambitious employees. Emerging and developing leaders want to know that they’re making progress in their career and doing work that has meaning and purpose, not only for the organization but for their future career path. In order to understand what the team needs/wants from their leader – we need to get to know our team members. This includes what matters most to them. We can’t do that if we don’t engage in meaningful and human interactions with them. This absolutely doesn’t mean we need to be their best friend, but we do have to be their ally and their mentor to give them their best shot.
  • You Cannot Articulate A Shared Vision: One sign of a truly incredible leader is their ability to create signature relationships practices inside their team. These are usually built around the organization’s vision, values, and goals – but that are unique to that team. Effective leadership models and practices decision making that is aligned with what is in the best interest of the organization, the team, and the customer and they are able to connect the dots for their team as a development practice. They help their team become forward thinkers, do-ers, and solution finders using the organizations mission statement as the guiding principle. They don’t just dictate actions to their team, they involve and inspire them around the vision of the business and their business unit. And they consistently recognize those who contribute the most results and deliver 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 | [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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2 thoughts on “You May Be A Bad Retail Leader If…

  1. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I have worked for many companies that have failed, and may not have, had the management listened to the input you have articulated here.
    I have unfortunately found myself in the same position again. Hired by a VP whom I had a great impression of, I am placed under the command of an arrogant, inexperienced hothead…
    I am looking for other opportunities.

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