Being successful in retail is about more than just sales figures. It requires people skills and strong leadership to make a business thrive. But not everyone is a born leader — in fact, the entire idea of the “born leader” is largely a myth. The good news is, you can become a better leader by committing to it and developing the appropriate skills.
Act From Your Values
Does your retail business have a core statement? Do you have a set of values by which your company operates? The values of your business should reflect your own personal sense of morals and ethics. This is critical to good leadership. Acting from clearly stated core values will not only help in the decision-making process, but also tells both employees and customers exactly who you are. True integrity brings a team together.
Build Lasting Relationships
When you act from your values, you also build trust, which is vital to the health of any retailer business. It’s important that both employees and customers know they can trust you. Strong business relationships will help your business thrive where others fail. This means being considerate, open, honest, and constructive.
Learn to Delegate
One of the most common CEO mistakes is trying to do everything yourself. Even the most efficient and driven leader can only do so much. If your business is to succeed, you have to learn to let other people make decisions. Once again, it comes down to trust: you must not only be trustworthy to your employees, but trust them in return.
Transparency and Communication
When asked, retail employees frequently list a lack of communication as a source of frustration. Open and transparent communication about your company’s vision, goals, and daily operation is a hallmark of good leadership. Whether you hold regular meetings or use a communications tool to help keep your team informed, communication remains a cornerstone of good business.
Lead by Example
How do you motivate your employees to work hard? By working hard yourself. How do you inspire them to work according to your company’s core values? By reflecting that in your own work. Leadership isn’t meant to be easy. It requires doing the same things you’d ask of others — otherwise, you invite resentment and frustration. But if you strive to act as a role model, you’ll find others rising to the challenge.
Develop Public Speaking Skills
Inspiring others also calls for strong speaking skills. Public speaking skills are important for a number of reasons: it helps win people over to your point of view; it’s motivational and inspiring; and it helps build confidence. Like any other leadership skill, this doesn’t come naturally to everyone — but it can be developed. If you’re not comfortable practicing in front of friends or family, there are public speaking software tools that can help.
Be a Fountain, Not a Drain
“Be positive” is a phrase that’s thrown around all too easily in the retail world. But positive energy really does make a difference. The idea of the hard-driven, ruthless CEO is pervasive, but it’s not necessarily the most constructive approach. Give your team credit for their accomplishments. Celebrate your victories, big and small. Make positive changes in the workplace. Approach challenges with enthusiasm and energy. You’ll likely see big positive changes in employee attitudes.
How can you inspire others to be their best? One way, as shown above, is leading by example. You can also empower others by properly delegating and giving your team the opportunity to solve problems and meet challenges on their own. But it also helps to engage directly with your employees. Ask them what visions they have for their future with the company, and help them develop the skills and focus they need to be great at what they do. When the time comes, give them the opportunity to improve themselves and level up their game — just like you have.
Take a Course
As a CEO, you should never stop learning and developing. The world of business doesn’t stand still, and neither should you. If you feel you’ve gone as far as you can with your own attempts at self-improvement, then it might be time to outsource your development to a course or seminar. Whether you set out to develop better critical thinking skills, emotional intelligence, or good habits, there’s always more to learn.
Make Time Outside Your Retail Business
“There’s more to life than work” may seem like a platitude, but it’s important for even the most driven leader to make time for family. Family time can actually be a powerful exercise in setting boundaries and maintaining a sense of discipline. Carve out dedicated time for family dinners, activities, or just spending time with loved ones — and stick to it, barring emergencies. Consciously making time for yourself and your family can, in itself, be an important show of leadership.
Great leaders are made, not born. As a retailer, you’ll be constantly faced with stress, challenges, and opportunities to grow and be better. Take each one as it comes, and use what you’ve learned to develop your strengths and address your flaws.
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