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People are the greatest asset and investment in any business, yet when we question our clients, they will almost always cite people as their ‘biggest challenge’. We often find businesses over-manage the detail or under-lead the direction giving rise to operational and management difficulties.
‘Fit’ retailers have a strategy where people lie at the core and when we walk into a ‘fit’ business we see clarity in communication, alignment of purpose, articulated expectations, staff feedback and above all else, a culture of performance, mutual respect and winning. We recently hosted a group of our international partners from Ebeltoft Group, a global alliance of retail consultants of which Retail Doctor Group are the Australian elected member, on a retail tour around Sydney. During the tour we visited the Microsoft Store on Pitt St Mall, Sydney, which had an inspiring and very clear human-first culture. They were not only customer-centric, but staff-centric, with an infectious positive attitude that transferred from management to customer interaction.
Leadership is the crucial component to creating an inspiring culture that threads through every part of the business and truly inspiring leaders are able to brilliantly articulate why the business exists and the ultimate vision for the future. Nowadays, when it comes to leadership, different styles are needed for different situations and it falls upon each leader to know when to exhibit a particular approach. Understanding when and how to adapt your style using these different leadership approaches requires coaching to realign how you lead and manage your staff and the results will lead to fitter people and fitter businesses. Let’s take a look at different leadership styles and when they are most appropriately used.
Some studies have shown that The Dictator leadership style causes the highest turnover of staff and results in more absenteeism than any other style as Dictators hold on to as much power and decision-making control as possible. Fully expected to obey orders, employees are motivated by threats and a structured set of rewards and punishments. It’s worth noting that millennial employees are highly resistant to this management style as it shows a singular lack of trust and doesn’t allow for their input. Yet in certain situations, The Dictator style of leadership can be highly effective especially in environments where businesses require high-volume and high-speed production. It’s also a useful style to lead employees who don’t respond to other leadership styles and in situations where there is little time allowed to make a decision.
The Officer is one who does everything “by the book” meeting every procedure and policy. If it’s not covered by the book, The Officer will often turn to those above them for advice and authority. However, this leadership style can be effective when employees are faced with the need to grasp standards and procedures that directly affect their safety or security. A good example of this is where the handling of cash is required. It’s important to note that this style of leadership is not effective when managing employees who have lost interest in their jobs and colleagues. It’s also ineffective when employees have formed work habits that they are unable to break.
As the most participative style of leadership, The Includer informs staff about everything that affects their working day and encourages them to be part of the decision-making process. They also share decision-making responsibilities as well as problem solving. Yielding greater quality of work, The Includer recognises and encourages achievement and generates greater trust and respect resulting in employees who are team spirited and have a higher overall morale.
The Includer style is not always appropriate and is most successful when used with experienced and skilled employees or when you need to implement operational changes or resolve individual group problems. In some cases, it can be easier and more cost effective not to use this leadership style, particularly when there is simply not enough time to obtain everyone’s input. It is also not recommended when employee’s safety is of a critical concern.
Known as the “hands-off” style, The Empowerer gives little (or no) direction, giving employees as much freedom as they can. It’s an effective style if employees are trustworthy, highly skilled, experienced, educated and have the drive to determine their own goals and resolve their own problems. As an Empowerer, you should be aware that some employees can feel insecure when their leader is less “available”. They can also become less effective if you provide little feedback to let them know how well they’re performing. And of course – watch out for The Empowerers who uses this leadership style because they don’t understand their own responsibilities and hope their staff will cover for them!
If you recognise yourself in all these leadership styles in some way, then you’re well equipped to handle all the variables that may be thrown at you during your business life. But if you find yourself in just one, consider how an effective people program can open you up to be a fitter leader in the future by offering your team greater insight and understanding of the value of company culture, employees and your business’s effective people strategy.
Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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