As retail continues to evolve, the leaders who are responsible for performance and results must also grow and change. Here are four key points about the future of retail leadership.
1. Strong frontline leadership will separate successful stores/departments from those that aren’t. This has, of course, been the case for a long time. When I ran a 100-store chain I could see it in the results. I could see it when I visited stores. What’s different now is that stores with absent, or weak, frontline leaders may not survive.
An average or mediocre experience no longer cuts it. Weak leadership, and a merely average experience, results in lost revenue and customers. Strong frontline leaders and teams that deliver a superior and engaging experience bring success. Owners and executives can no longer tolerate weak store/department leadership.
2. Leaders must be inspiring - and they must hold people accountable. I like to say that retailers can and will continue to be successful, but the pathway to success is narrower than it used to be. The retail store of tomorrow can’t afford to have employees who don’t give 100% to each and every customer. Customers are too valuable to risk not giving them an amazing experience. Most employees want to do a good job. A leader’s inspiration and accountability helps them reach those higher levels of performance and results.
3. Leaders must proactively manage their store’s top customers. There are customers who are essential to a store’s success. You can call them VIPs, or top 50, or 100, or whatever you want. Store leaders of the future will need to personally know who they are, when they were last in the store, what they bought, etc. Of course the leader will be doing this with her/his staff, but future leaders will need to manage top customers even more closely than they manage their inventory.
4. Leaders must show the way. I see it time and time again. Stores with leaders who deliver a great experience invariably have a staff that does the same. Stores with leaders who have high average sales and achieve their goals also have a high performing staff. Being able to execute these things won’t be enough. They will have to be demonstrated each and every day.
So let me ask, are you and your leadership team ready to successfully lead your staff into the future? Here’s an exercise to help you do just that. Discuss each of the above points with your leadership team, and discuss which each person can focus on this week. Don’t delay. The future is upon us. The future is now.
My next session of my From Boss to Next Level Manager and Coach program begins on Thursday, September 3rd. This four-week program is perfect for new managers, or for those who will benefit from learning an easier and more effective way to coach employees. Details here.