Retail commentator Dave Farrell invites readers to consider, do others see you as the leader that you perceive yourself?
The angst in the store is palatable, a stench of fear permeates throughout the multi-million dollar facades as workers scurry back and forth in a blind panic. The bosses are coming for a visit.
What will they notice this time? There is always something wrong. No matter how hard they try – guilt and derision is thrust upon them.
Never mind the tasks and time restraints of modern retail or the skills required for today’s customer experience. Executive management was imminent, and all they could do was to concentrate on their appeasement.
What is his name?
What is her title?
What do they do?
Should we smile or be stoic in the kowtowing of the bended knee?
Most duck for cover as the loathsome party disrupts everything in their path.
It will soon be over apart from the stress-etched faces of management – the poor souls who pick up the pieces. Small groups of which gather in nervous banter and seek solace in caffeine and nicotine, others retreat into the anonymity of the web. They forge plans and hone tactics for the next assault; whenever that may be. Futile in their efforts to rebuild a shell-shocked group whose hopes are for appreciation, a chance to grow and have a sense of belonging. Never underrate the havoc a single person’s toxicity can have on a brand.
The team prepares for the start of another busy day before gathering in a cheerful huddle at the front of the store. As is customary health and safety kicks off with warm-ups, followed by the day’s focus. Rumours abound that executive leadership is in town. Excitement spreads with hoots of delight and memories of past visits.
The doors open to customers who respond to the wide smiles, glinting eyes and a pleasant welcome. It is business as usual.
Their appearance goes viral through the store and despite wishes to the contrary; they are engulfed by admiring co-workers. After, a long hello and thank you the leader walks the store alone – taking the moment to chat with every team member. They never once talk shop or highlight concern. Any fool can find fault. Instead, asking for opinion and listening with intent. Inquiring after family and personal goals, but all the while feeling the essence of the organisation.
The chief spends just an hour on the floor and wraps up the tour by making a coffee and sitting down to chat with the crew in the tearoom. At no time speaking of work or disturbed by calls. On leaving, the boss shares their key outtake. The whole squad, sharing the staff room as one.
Leaders should never take for granted or undervalue the persuasive impact of high emotional intelligence on what matters.
Retail is about people, for people by people.