Want To Be A Great Retail Leader? Avoid Saying & Doing These Things…

Want To Be A Great Retail Leader? Avoid Saying & Doing These Things…

Retail leadership is not easy and with all of the moldy, crusty, and outdated processes and corporate policies – it is relatively easy to fall into the trap of managing primarily for compliance, become a big grump, and an effective leader of the “status quo”.  It takes a special leader to rise above the average, not to give in to the organizational challenges, and to deliver a leadership style that inspires and motivates their team. Great retail leaders speak the truth and fight for the elimination of processes that don’t add value to the customer experience and/or the employee experience.

5 Things You Will Never Hear A Great Retail Leader Say

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  • That’s Not My Fault: If you are a leader, every miss falls under your umbrella of responsibility. That being said – we are fortunate that we work in an industry that allows for risk taking and innovation. There are few things that can harm a business on a large scale if you are a mid- or senior-level leader. But great leadership always need to stand up and own the issues and challenges that exist in your business and your area of responsibility.
  • I Have Thought Of Everything: That is very impossible. This statement shows that you are working inside a silo and that you are absolutely not involving your team in the decision making or solutions piece of the business. In retail there are so many different approaches we can take to our business and frequently we have to adjust to market changes or shifting priorities. Great leaders looks at things from a variety of perspectives and incorporate their team’s and colleague’s ideas, thoughts, and suggestions into their strategic planning and actions.

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  • I Can Do It Better Myself: If you say and do this – you will lose a tremendous amount of respect and credibility with your team. Our primary responsibility is to instill career capital in our team members that work with us. Perhaps you can do it better today, but teaching someone else how to do it well also is what separates great retail leaders from “good enough” ones.
  • That’s How We’ve Always Done It: Way too many retail organizations are critically invested in this method of thinking. Again – great retail leaders align their words, direction, career guidance with a changing and evolving industry and embrace new, loud, and vivid styles of achieving the organizations goals and objectives. They keep pace with the skill set of talent they are bringing in. They seek to invite talent that is creative and solution-oriented onto their team to enhance, improve, and challenge the status quo. After all, that is how great things are getting done in retailers that are winning today.
  • The Why Doesn’t Matter, Just Do It: This is the quickest and easiest way to homogenize your team and get your actual great talent to leave. Average employees will find solace in executing compliance initiatives. Great talent wants to understand how direction and action fits into the organization’s goals and objectives. Once you are too busy to help them connect those tasks to a greater meaning and purpose you are removing the opportunity to learn and grow. Your best people will exit the business quickly.

5 Things You Will Never See A Great Retail Leader Do

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  • Encourage Someone To Lie: It just doesn’t happen. Great retail leaders model behaviors that are aligned with the vision and values of the organization. They also stand by their decisions. They would never ask for or support dishonesty on their team to anyone.
  • Assign Blame: Great retail leaders develop strong and collaborative teams. Sometimes the team takes a risk and it goes wrong. The leader accepts responsibility for these moments. They would never offer up a team member or colleague to assume the blame for a failed project/initiative. They own that and they stand by that.
  • Not Listen To Others: Executive and senior-level leaders that are driven by an elevated level of hubris have a hard time tuning out their overwhelming voice to make room for others points-of-view. Great retail leadership knows they don’t know it all and they involve their team and ask for ideas and suggestions to drive business results. They embrace a diverse assortment of perspectives and surround themselves with solution seekers. Remarkable leaders are present and in the moment. They don’t need to talk over others to get their point across.

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  • Not Give Recognition To Deserving Team Members: Achievement and contribution should be something that everyone should strive to deliver and they should be recognized for their effort – after all – great results and leadership happen by design. It’s not luck. It’s the result of hard-work, focus, energizing communication, and ruthless commitment. Great leadership recognizes and rewards contribution and encourages and supports elevated effort in those that are delivering “good enough” but capable of excellence.
  • Not Supporting Work/Life Balance: I know that most people think it’s a myth but there is a way to achieve work/life balance inside retail. As a retail leader, it starts with supporting and developing our team members in the areas of time management, delegation, managing upward delegation, and prioritization. Encouraging people to take their earned breaks and vacation time will show that we are invested and involved in the well-being of our team members and not just concerned with how much juice we can squeeze out of them.


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 | beth@excellencein-retail.com [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 “Want To Be A Great Retail Leader? Avoid Saying & Doing These Things…

  1. Many words to live by. Our businesses will only survive if we find new ways and take risks, engage employees and embrace work/life balance.

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