How to be an Amazing Leader

The ability of our current business leaders to motivate and empower a team to be successful are unfortunately rare in my opinion. A lot of leaders are doing an ok job with their teams, but the ones that are truly amazing are a small number. In retail, we need to have store managers and Regional managers being great leaders if we want to truly be successful with the ongoing challenge of customer engagement and delivering a consistently positive experience.

Leadership is critical in their ability to get their team to perform. I have seen so many times the direct correlation of a store that is performing above expectations (by exceeding their KPIs’) and the successful leadership provided by the store manager. Move the same store manager to a non-performing store and invariably the store will improve. Move a non-performing store manager to a performing store and the results slide.

Some recent Gallup research in the US backs this up. Over a four decade period, Gallup discovered some very interesting data, unfortunately, it doesn’t paint a great picture, however using the information they uncovered can help all of us to step up our endeavours in being better leaders. The future of our younger generation depends on it. We’re not quite ready to replace all retail staff with robots just yet!!

The research found that managers have the greatest impact on staff engagement. We have known for some time that employee engagement is very low, (the Gallup research found only 30% of staff were engaged) resulting in a massive loss of productivity and therefore profit. The research found that Managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. This is massive, yet not too surprising from my point of view.

They also found that only 35% of managers were actively engaged and the result of this lack of engagement was costing the US economy billions. I would suggest the figures for engagement would not be too dissimilar here in Australia. We have a lot of work to do to fix employee and manager engagement. No surprise that an engaged manager was much more likely to have an engaged team.

So what are some of the ways managers can step up to lead and better engage their teams? Here are three very simple behaviours that will massively improve the engagement of your team:

  • Set work priorities and goals for your team – This behaviour was rated by two-thirds of engaged team members as being highly important. This is a pretty simple process to follow for most managers as each day they have tasks that are required to be done and KPI results to share with the team. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked with team members just left to do their own thing, with little input and follow up. It only needs to take 3 – 5 minutes at or close to a shift change and improves knowledge, accountability and buy in.
  • Focus on team member’s strengths or positive characteristics – Again this was rated by over two-thirds as being highly important. And again this is a simple process that can be done daily, just by observing what your team is doing and catch them doing something right. Positive feedback is powerful, quick to give and always well received.
  • Be open and approachable – well over half of engaged team members rated this as highly important. It pretty much speaks for itself, managers need to be there when the team needs them, not too busy or unable to be contacted.

I think these three behaviours are pretty easy to implement and are going to be eagerly accepted by your team. This, in turn, will lead to better engagement and will help managers become much better leaders for the future.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.