Retail requires very meticulous management across the entire business from the sales floor to customer interactions, to general services to inventory control. Each and every process needs to be streamlined and meticulous in order to sustain a successful business. Core to this is good leadership in the form of effective management and these managers need to ensure that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them and how to achieve this. So what does it mean to provide good leadership in retail?

Good leaders can make difficult decisions

The best retail managers have to make tough decisions on a daily basis. They have to deal with difficult customers, have to make very quick decisions, recruit and terminate in real time,  and guide their staff to make their own good choices. It can be hard to know what to do in these situations but they are critical as these decisions have a larger long term impact on the health of the business. Top retail staff in leadership positions don’t shy away from this challenge. They view it as part of their role and rise to the challenge.

Good leaders understand task direction 

Effective retail leaders need to balance task direction and the people they manage. When leaders are task oriented, they may find success in getting employees to accomplish important tasks. Particularly in a high volume store environment. A task oriented leader is able to react quickly to various situations in sorting out customer disputes or operational issues. Here the retail leader will need to delegate effectively and lean on the staff complement to get things done. 

Good leaders work with the culture

On the flip side of this, if a retail manager is too task-orientated, they can tend to forget about the people-side of good leadership. This can create the impression that the manager doesn’t care about the staff as people and can alienate the team. This can lead to staff burn out, lack of motivation and low morale. In a store with temporary staff, for example in holiday periods, it may be challenging to get temporary and permanent staff to  collaborate. A good manager needs to be able to work with these unpredictable factors and manage the shifting culture. 

Good leaders consider staff as people

Top managers are able to understand that teams are made up of people. Effective leaders spend time getting to know their staff one-on-one. By developing bonds and interacting with their employees they are able to get to know them more personally. This has a knock-on effect on the retail dynamic and the team as a whole will begin to achieve better results. This is because team-centred workers are more likely to support and collaborate with a staff member they care about. This has a knock-on effect to the customers who will be better treated by staff who feel valued.

Good leaders find balance 

The most successful retail managers are able to find balance between tasks and relationships. Employees ultimately are able to work in a more effective way when they feel considered. But also when their manager has clearly communicated and maintained their performance expectations. If the manager puts too much emphasis on the relational aspect of the role then they will fall short of achieving what is required on a commercial level. So this requires finding a very fine balance.

The bottom line

Retail leaders wear many hats on any given day. They need to balance the needs of the business with the needs of the people they manage. The best leaders are able to hold all these complexities in mind and make tough decisions for the betterment of the whole group dynamic, their  teams and the operational requirements . 

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