The “Why” Behind Being A Committed Leader

The “Why” Behind Being A Committed Leader

Every so often – when my job or work “in general” becomes frustrating I have to stop and really think about how and why I chose to become a leader. I know when I started my retail career I moved up fairly quickly because I was REALLY good a few things. Visual Merchandising, organization, representing my brand, communication, and customer experience delivery. These were things that were recognized and rewarded by my Directors and CEO and for that, I am so appreciative – as without their encouragement I would be hard-pressed to find what industry my European History major translated into as a career.

What I wasn’t very good at was “leadership”. I hadn’t coached or developed anyone when I stepped into my first District Manager role. I would feel physically ill when I would have to have conversations with people about being out of dress code [and that dialog – in the grand scheme of constructive dialogs – is the EASIEST one to have].  About nine months after accepting my first District Manager role in retail I had to make a decision – either commit to being an authentic, truth-telling, high-expectation leader or a “manager” that avoids uncomfortable conversations and allows mediocre results to be their reputation. I chose the former. I had to – I was committed to delivering greatness for the executive leadership who had given me a chance and who were counting on me to produce strong results.

Every so often I have to truly marinade in thinking about why I do what I do. Why it’s important and what my overwhelming purpose is to continue doing it – usually these moments occur with the only other option to me [from my myopic perspective, in the moment] is wanting to throw in the towel. I was last at this intersection approximately eight weeks ago. So, it really got me thinking about all of the great things that we can do as leaders and the impact that we have on others.

Leaders Defined

  • A person who guides others toward a common goal, showing the way by example, and creating an environment in which other team members feel actively involved in the entire process. A leader is not the boss of the team but, instead, the person that is committed to carrying out the mission of the Venture. Below are some qualities a strong leader may possess.
  • A person who guides or inspires others
  • A guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group.
  • A person who goes before or with to show the way; conducts or escorts others

My Favorite Reasons To Lead

PEOPLE: It’s all about people for great leaders. Their team, their business partners, their customers, their boss(es).  The best leaders put most of their time and energy into helping other people be more successful, by making connections, providing feedback, professional growth, challenging the status quo, courageously eliminating things that don’t add value, and through providing the resources and support they need. When people are open to development, guidance, and growth – it is exhilarating to support their career path. As leaders we creating meaning & purpose for our team members and in doing so give them alignment around the organization’s vision and values.

When our purpose/focus is to grow and develop emerging and future leaders there is an added pressure can sometimes make leading difficult. After all, we are all only human [though some may argue the truth of that statement]. That is why the best leaders know that we can only help those that want to be helped and we don’t waste valuable time and resources on people that are not interested in learning & development. These people – if leader’s allow for it – can take extremely important time away from the creation of future leaders and that doesn’t benefit anyone. Great leaders know that they need to invest their time in helping high-potential, willing people reach their goals and exceed their own expectations. We believe in people – not a platform. We are in a leadership role not to show off our skills but to showcase the talent of the people who allow us to mentor them and THAT is our brand/reputation.

WE GET FIRST DIBS ON NEW LEARNING INITIATIVES: This is one of my favorite reasons…We have to be ready for our leadership training/development evolution(s), constantly. Therefore, we get to identify and learn new trends when they are born and introduced into the marketplace. We can study and implement new efficiencies and productive ideas into our business models to drive the best results for our team members and our customers. Great leaders are agile, adaptable, and hungry. Hungry to introduce winning, vivid, and exciting new concepts into our leadership repertoire. Strong leaders are avid self-developers. We don’t allow our competencies or skill set to stagnate or grow moldy. We’re enthusiastic learners – not only to keep ourselves nimble and increase our conveyable marketability but to do the same for our team members.

POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON SOURCING & RECRUITMENT EFFORTS: When you are a spectacular leader who invests in your team members’ futures you will build a reputation and professional vision through your values that other high-potential and high-productivity people want to be involved with. In these circumstances our team will help support recruitment efforts and finding the right candidates that will support the team’s personality and ambitions. Our team has a great profundity around the work environment and as such want to invite people into the mix that will deliver exceptional results and enhance the culture. After all, solid leaders know the following about referrals:

  • The #1 source for quality new hires
  • Retention of referrals is higher than any other source
  • Referrals that are hired produce more profit
  • Referrals are more likely to be a “cultural fit” than other hires
  • One out of every five referrals gets hired (saving time and money on recruitment initiatives)

Finding a home/place for bright, ambitious candidates brings delight and elevated purpose to the highly effective leader’s agenda. Let average “managers” have the mediocre masses – we need the best and the smartest – it’s excites and propels us [all of the team] forward in our vision.

THE SHAPING & CREATION OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE CULTURE: Great leaders find a purpose and a passion around the organization’s mission, expectation, and set of values. However, each phenomenal leader and their team members share unique and robust signature relationship practices that make the team cohesive, collaborative, dynamic, effective, and enviable to others. Strong and committed retail leaders create a culture that is specific and exclusive to how their team delivers highly effective and critical results to the organization’s bottom line. A healthy balance of work and play is created that is conducive to productive and meaningful work and delivers an enhanced workplace culture that brings a daily, weekly, quarterly, and annual sense of accomplishment to the team and each individual.

This type of culture – additionally – supports the well-being of each member of the team. Knowing that they are together and aligned behind a common purpose and path they support each other just as the best leaders support their teams. Every day we hear rhetoric and painful palaver around culture and “experience” in the workplace…true leaders are those that can create action around the words, infuse it into everything they and their teams do – authentically – and make it come to life. These cultures are virtually impossible for others to copy and they are seriously intoxicating.

So after really performing some serious soul-searching a couple months ago, I recognized that these are the things that make it worthwhile and bring meaning and purpose to why I choose to do what I do. Identifying these things gave me the courage to make a change in whom I chose to support [both in organization and people] and gave me the kick in the pants I needed to reinvent my approach and resuscitate my commitment to my career and my commitment to the people I have worked with in the past, people I work with currently, and people I will work with in the future. Measuring the things that matter and the things that deliver the most fulfillment and happiness really brings clarity to how great being a leader and influencer is and why it is important to share and model these things with and for the next generations of leaders.


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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