A new urgency for retail leaders and high-potentials to up their games and take on more responsibility has been driving an increasingly intense focus on retail store leadership training. We’re not only hearing about it from clients; it’s something you can see being played out in the news and in the leadership shuffles among major retailers.

In his article “Learning the Leadership Lessons of Retail,” leadership expert Eric McNulty talks about retail leadership as a kind of proving ground for any business executive. He says that the skills it takes to succeed in retail are the reason why “throughout my management career, I looked for people with retail experience when I was hiring.”

It makes a lot of sense when you think about what’s required of today’s retail store managers. They have to be entrepreneurial, adaptable, bottom-line savvy, customer-focused, and quick on their feet (both literally and figuratively!). They also have to be effective coaches, delegators, persuaders, and role models. They have to know what’s going on in the external marketplace but also be tightly attuned to internal operational and interpersonal issues. McNulty’s right: if you can be highly successful in that role, there’s no telling what you can do.

When you add in the fact that retail store leaders play such a key role in driving employee engagement—which research shows is essential for building customer loyalty—it’s easy to see why so many of our clients are focused on this vital area of their business. A store’s success truly can come down to this one person, and a retailer’s overall success can come down to the consistency of store leadership across the organization.

The Role of Retail Store Leadership Training

Successful retail managers draw on a combination of skills, knowledge, behaviors, and intuition. The mistake some make is relying heavily on intuition and downplaying the need to continually grow their knowledge and skills.

But the world is changing too fast. New complexities and challenges are throwing curve balls every day. Our clients are telling us that a leader’s intuition will only take them so far in this environment. And they need to go further.

Are your store leaders prepared to step up?

Share your thoughts in the comments, or tweet us @mohrretail.


About Michael Patrick

Michael held positions in retail management, merchandising, and human resources before joining MOHR Retail’s predecessor in 1986. In 1990 he purchased the retail division of that firm to form today’s MOHR Retail. Michael holds true to his retail roots by delivering learning that changes behavior—providing both immediate and lasting business impact. In addition to facilitating MOHR Retail training programs, he offers executive-level coaching in one-on-one sessions dealing with critical strategic issues such as succession strategies and executive team development. The author of “The New Negotiation Mindset: Guarantee A Bigger Slice,” Michael is a longstanding member of NRF as well as ISA: The Association of Learning Providers. He has a B.A. from San Diego State University, completed Master’s level work at Arizona State University, and lives with his family in New Jersey.