It’s Times Like These We Need True Leaders.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams. Never a truer word was spoken and never has there been a time in retail where leadership was more important.

The critical word in Adams’ quote is “actions”. There is no shortage of people wanting to wax on ad-nauseam about the subject of leadership but very few who actually display leadership in their business and to their teams every day.

Leadership has a lot in common with good parenting. Wanting your children to do better than you did. Nurturing them. Being ambitious for them. Understanding that being a good parent to them is more important than being their friend. Earning respect. Setting the rules. Teaching and mentoring. Celebrating and disciplining. Sound familiar.

Good leaders take a repetitive, formulaic approach to management that their teams understand and execute to. It becomes a playbook. It starts and ends with clear, non-ambiguous communication and no fear of confrontation.

Leaders set the vision, the objectives and the ground-rules. They can paint a picture of what success will look like and how to measure progress. They assure themselves of the competencies and capabilities of their team members and the business. Then they delegate both responsibility and scope to innovate, enhance and execute within the limitations of the competencies and capabilities. They never abdicate responsibility for the result and they keep a careful watch on progress.

They are always there to mentor, suggest, coach and prod. But they never interfere or micro-manage. It is only when team members act outside of the rules, display a lack of understanding of the objective or fail to meet the key performance indicators that they intervene and in the first instance ask for explanations.

Leadership is never about blind faith.

It is about knowing what you need from your people, knowing what your people can do and supporting them to – not only get on with it but – to over-achieve targeted results based on their own energy, initiative and insight to improve execution.

The vast majority of retail staff today want to knock the ball out of the park; to lift; to make a meaningful contribution to success. With the right training, enablers, support and coaching they can do just that.

Often the only thing that stands between a team and achieving success is the leader.

Now is the time to be a true leader.