If you take the time to observe how others lead, you’ll see no shortage of lemming-like wannabes pursuing self-gratification and ambition, rather than true influence, which is to enlighten, develop, protect and inspire.
True leadership does not come from following others, nor can it be learnt via formal education. All this teaches you is how not to be a leader.
Here are the four types of leaders who wield what I call ‘pseudo authority’.
- Micro-manager: Ensures every detail is done the way he or she would do it.
- Self-server: Seeks personal fulfilment on the tail of others.
- Bureaucrat: Observes procedures to the letter without deviation irrespective of the outcome.
- Planner: Creates an in-depth theoretical intention that seldom eventuates.
- Authoritarian: Does as they tell you without feedback, input or collaboration.
- Bully: Uses intimidation and public humiliation to force conformity.
- Laissez-faire: Refuses to take ownership or determine actions. What will be will be.
- Absent: Fails to show up and contribute. Hides in the office or behind a charade.
How to be a true leader
Retail leadership encompasses openness and honesty. It involves a passion for execution, demands inclusion for all and thrives upon emotional intelligence. It is all glued together by individual integrity and active mentorship and progression.
How can you become a true leader? Hone your skills at the coal face.
- Listen to the cleaning teams; no one knows more about delivering on appearance than they do.
- Spend time with the trolley collectors who see opportunities to improve customer service.
- Consult the checkout operator; they hear everything your customers are saying – and more to the point, what they’re not saying.
- Solicit suggestions for enhancements from the back-of-the house.
- Interact with the shop floor regarding experience and theatre.
- Above all, involve store management and empower them to make decisions.
Your reputation as a leader will follow you wherever you go, be it across the road or the other side of the world, so mould your leadership style from the outset and build a legacy you can be proud of it.
Never forget that retail is about people, for people and by people. And likewise, leadership is not a self-professed label, but rather an honour bestowed upon the few by the many.