According to DDI, the leader who’s mastered having successful conversations is most likely to do well steering their team and/or their business. “By the end of each day, leaders likely have had multiple conversations with a range of their constituents,” DDI’s researchers write. “Each of these interactions will collectively determine their ultimate success as a leader.” [Source: Fast Company]

“When 332,860 bosses, peers and subordinates were asked what leadership skills—regardless of level—were viewed as the most important attributes for a successful leader, the top skill named was the ability to inspire and motivate others.” [Source: SHRM]


-Ability To Inspire 
-Ability to Motivate


A true understanding of your team and the ability to communicate in such a way they feel supported, connected, and galvanized to deliver more than expected will support these non-negotiables your team has of you as their leader. So how can leaders make sure they are creating and maintaining a culture that provides these “non-negotiables” to their team members?

From Harvard Business Review; for three years, Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones from the London Business School explored that question and found six imperatives that can serve as a roadmap for leaders aiming to create the most productive and rewarding working environments possible for themselves and for their companies:

1) Let People Be Themselves

This is part and parcel to involvement and empathy. You need to understand each individual on your team the the part that they play on the team to support them effectively. Hiring innovative and creative individuals and then forcing them to conform or stifling them will only cause dis-engagment and, frankly, disaster. Value what each individual brings to their role and to the business unit. Recognize and reward their contributions and strengths both as they relate to their job and to their aggregate contribution.

2) Unleash The Flow Of Information

Share! Share! Share! The best retail organizations are transparent with and supportive of their employees at all levels. Good leaders hire people they can trust to help drive the business and are themselves trustworthy to their teams. They respect their employee’s need to know what’s going on so they can do their job and understand the “why” behind change and business standards. If you are hiring the best talent and not settling for “bodies” you will be able to motivate and inspire your team through considerate and honest communication.

The reluctance to be the bearer of bad news is deeply human, and many top executives well know that this tendency can strangle the flow of critical information. Trust that your team members are intelligent, objective, and business savvy individuals and work with them to help them understand the communication and what it means to them and to the business, good or bad.

3) Magnify People’s Strengths

“Think not about how much value to extract from workers but about how much value to instill in them.”

This is the part where I usually become overly verbose so I will redirect you to my previous thoughts on this topic:

Here – Stay Interview’s to get to know and understand your team’s strengths and business goals
Here – Performance Appraisals that are actaully beneficial
Here – Succession Planning
Here – Career Path Planning

Being an involved leader will help you understand what each individual brings to their role, their team, and the company as a collective unit. It is our job to leverage strengths and make their opportunity areas better. We can ONLY accomplish that through being an involved, supportive, honest, collaborative, and communicative leader. Knowing our team members and what makes they tick will help us to inspire and motivate them the best way possible to maximize their growth and contribution.

4) Stand For More Than Shareholder Value

People want to work with meaning and purpose. They want to do well for themselves and their leadership. They want to add THEIR value to the company that they work for and be recognized for it.

Through your Retail Organization’s Mission Statement and Values and how you act in accordance with these, consistently, will help keep the original foundation of your business in tact. When companies don’t keep these values and business direction in mind with decisions and/or actions, you lose some of your credibility with your employees. You will lose the ability to inspire and motivate when you veer away from your business principles.

“During the past 30 years we have heard the following kinds of conversations at many organizations: “I’ll be home late. I’m working on a cure for migraine.” “Still at work. The new U2 album comes out tomorrow—it’s brilliant.” “Very busy on the plan to take insulin into East Africa.” We have never heard this: “I’ll be home late. I’m increasing shareholder value.”People want to do good work—to feel they matter in an organization that makes a difference. They want to work in a place that magnifies their strengths, not their weaknesses. For that, they need some autonomy and structure, and the organization [and the leaders that interact with their teams daily] must be coherent, honest, and open.” [Source: HBR]

5) Show How The Daily Work Makes Sense

Again, Meaning & Purpose Are Fundamental For Job Satisfaction In Retail. Understanding this and coming at it from an “empathetic” perspective and being “involved” in the business of supporting your team…you need to be available to (a) either help them find the meaning and purpose of their tasks to help them make sense of it or (b) to revisit their task to see if it is necessary. We, all of us, want to feel like we are making a difference and our work will result in improvement, enhancement, encouragement that we are heading in the right direction. Leaders need to make sure they are inspiring and motivating their team, always, with the right assignments (instead of simply busy work).

“Shared meaning is about more than fulfilling your mission statement—it’s about forging powerful connections between personal and organizational values.”

“The challenge is similar to that of fostering personal growth. If you don’t do it, the best people may leave or never consider you at all. Or your competitors may develop the potential in people you’ve overlooked. When you do make the investment, your staff members become more valuable to you and your competitors alike. The trick, then, is to make it meaningful for them to stay.”

6) Have Rules That People Can Believe In

“Organizations need structure, clear values, and a focused vision. Markets and enterprises need rules. To grow and maintain a successful business, organizations often come to believe that new, complicated processes will undermine their culture. But systematization need not lead to bureaucratization, not if people understand what the rules are for and view them as legitimate.” [Source: HBR]…AND, of course, one crucial component is that the executive leaders don’t impose something tantamount to martial law in the organization [I’ve seen it happen…it’s not pretty].

Having employees whose personal thoughts and actions are aligned with the vision and values of the company (this conversation needs to start at the interviewing stage of the relationship). Hire competent, intelligent, business savvy individuals – give them meaningful work – show them how their contributions fit into the organization’s big picture, frequently. Creating a respectful, supportive, liberating, and human workplace as opposed to an alienating, exploitative, controlling, and homogenizing one will give your employees trust and belief in your leadership. Being inspiring, motivating, empathetic, and involved will give your team and reason to stay and be a part of the growth and success of the company.

We, again, have this incredible gift of knowledge to build our workforce into highly productive individuals and team members that produce amazing results in metrics, customer experience, and productivity. And we have an obligation to be the best teachers and support that we can be to our team. This gives us a road-map to ensure that we are holding up our end the relationship with our employees consistently and creating the best work environment we can for them.