I think we can all agree that Retail changes at the speed of light. I've been in this industry for 25 years and counting and it's still a wild ride. What's interesting about our space is that the people in Retail often match the pace of our environment. Have you ever noticed that most Managers, District Managers, VP's and Presidents talk fast, and move even faster? Not to mention they're the best task masters.
It's possible that the Management environment attracts a lot of Assertive/Passionate people. Or, that our environment requires you to move at a fast pace, so we adapt. Either way, one of my consistent observations when I ask a Retail leader, "how are you?" I inevitably get the same answer … "busy" or when they really want to make a point … "Crazy busy!". You've probably said the same thing yourself on countless occasions.
So why am I bringing this up?
One of the most important characteristics of an Influential Leader is self-awareness. It's important for a leader to understand what their verbal and non-verbal behaviour is in communicating to the team. If you always appear to be rushed and trying to check things off your list, the message you send is, 'I'm not present' and 'I'm too busy to listen'.
Saying you have an open door policy or that you are always there to support them is not enough. Your visual and verbal image should consistently reflect your values on a daily basis. Great leaders stay calm, they slow down when they are with their team because they understand they must be present, engage with their people and ask questions and listen. They believe that hearing is more important than being heard.
So, audit your own behaviours and ask yourself what message you're sending to your teams. Are you inadvertently telling them that your world is more important than theirs? Or, are you clearly letting them know through your actions, not just your words, that you're there with them?
Busy? We're all busy. What we need are Leaders who aren't too busy to actually lead.
Linda Montalbano is a true retail operator with a history of leading large retail teams to success. If you need a fresh perspective on what's going wrong in your stores, Linda is the one to tell you like it is and come up with a solid game plan to turn things around!