Building A Business Full Of Giants

In the 1980’s, David Ogilvy – founder of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising – sent a set of Russian dolls to heads of every outpost of his business in every city around the world. If you opened up all the dolls, inside the smallest and last doll was a message that read –

“You are this last doll. If each of us hires and nurtures people who are better than us and they inturn do the same, then we will become a company of giants”.

Retail leadership is the most misunderstood and immature discipline in the industry.

In retail there are really two critical end points – centralised business strategy (HQ) and decentralised sales getting (the store). Everything else is about linking, enabling and delivering. In retail the leaders task is to find, support, nurture and retain successful people and successful teams.

Above all this requires the skills of a successful communicator, motivator, teacher, disciplinarian, entrepreneur... well, a lot of stuff really.

But the principle is a leader’s job is to help his people be better. For them to shine as individuals and as a team. And only when this occurs can a leader in retail actually be seen as a success. A leader measures their own success not on what they personally do but on what their people achieve.

To re-phrase David Ogilvy, if we can get our people to be their best and they in turn do the same for the people they serve we can only become the best at what we do.

The key comes from understanding that 99% of people want to be successful, want to make a positive contribution and want the business to succeed. They need the help of a leader to put them in the right context, with the right skills and information, supported the right way to achieve a known set of objectives.

Clear, concise communication; absolute comprehension; relevant motivation; and objective, transparent measurement are keys to leadership in retail.

Ensuring your team consists of people who have a common set of positive values is critical.

The competence and skills are a steep growth curve that should never have an end point as you do whatever it takes to help them become better and more productive.

So how is your leadership helping to build a business of giants?