Clients frequently ask about how to get more accountability in their organization. They also worry about leaders accepting mediocre performance because the thought of recruiting a replacement just adds work to an overburdened schedule. So they struggle with employees who coast or have inconsistent performance.

On the other hand, when we read employee blogs about working in retail, employees often talk about how they feel unappreciated, sometimes ignored, and generally disconnected from a demanding boss who is disrespectful to them.

Whenever we’re asked by a retailer to make a recommendation about a program for training hourly associates that build skills and increase motivation, we always get around to asking about the role of the leader. Because after nearly 30 years of consulting with retailers on driving performance by improving interpersonal skills, the leader is always where change begins or doesn’t.

I once was told by an SVP of stores that if his managers did everything they were told by corporate, it wouldn’t be enough to make them great leaders. People who take on the mantle of leadership have an obligation to know their stuff and use it: call the shots, be honest in their dealings, think about others’ needs, and personally step up their direction, feedback, and support.

While we may not be curing cancer in retail, we do have goals and a vision for our respective businesses. Waiting to be told or accepting less than your personal best is not leadership. Stepping up means treating your leadership role seriously and being the person your team needs do to their best. And if you don’t know what that is, ask them. And then demand the same for yourself.

How do leaders in your organization “step up”? What have you seen that impressed you? Share it here 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.