When discussing the capabilities of retail managers, conversations often circle around skills like managing a sales team, coaching and training, managing the store budget and visual merchandising. It is true that these skills are important to the successful management of a retail store. However, the difference between an excellent retail manager and a good one is their leadership capability.
We often find that people use the terms management and leadership interchangeably, yet the two are radically different. Management is about planning, budgeting, staffing, measuring performance and problem solving. Management ensures that the products are displayed on the shelf and the store is functioning so that customers can purchase products. For any retailer, management can be a difficult and balancing task. Remember that management is crucial – yet it is not leadership.
Leadership is about people and how you motivate and inspire them. It’s about having a vision, about empowerment and employee and customer engagement. Leadership is not about attributes, it’s about behaviour.
In the modern work environment, it is necessary to be both a manager and leader. Management is essential for running a successful retail business or store. However, when it comes to managing staff to deliver results, the manager needs to shift their focus to leadership.
But how do you become a leader?
The good news is that effective leaders are made, not born. Leadership is a learning process which is acquired through experience and trial and error. This means that you have the ability to develop skills to improve your leadership capability. Even the most recognised leaders will continually be improving their leadership behaviour, whether it’s in the language they use with staff or improving their emotional intelligence.
When retail executives or learning and development teams are determining the training content for their managers, ensure that you are including leadership training. Creating the right leadership approach in store management is essential for sustainable retail success.