Lead Change Or Be Led By It

While retail is changing at an accelerated rate very few retailers have been able to keep up. It should come as no surprise that  there are a plethora of concepts out there on how to survive unfortunately many, no most retailers can’t simply afford to take the leap of faith in new approaches, advisors, technology and the overall investment associated with all of the market suggests. It doesn’t mean that any of these tools or technology are wrong, but they need to be the right fit for a retailers brand. It doesn’t particularly matter if you have one store or five hundred just about every retailer is in the same place with the same question. How do you survive.

When I wrote the The Great Transition it was with the intent to develop and share insightful prescriptions to improve the performance of your business. You see one of the things that isn’t written or addressed enough about, is how quickly many of the best practices and academic beliefs become redundant.  Just like many retail concepts have fallen of the relevance meter with consumers so do concepts. I even question how relevant management and leadership practices are in the face of this rapid change? And then the ultimate question how do you respond to change, identify the right initiative and ultimately deliver them.

There is a lot to learn from failure provided that we learn to the important lessons such as “The Five Disciplines of Growth” To be Forward Thinking, Fast, Flexible, Focused Follow Up and Fact Based. These disciplines are as much about managing a project, organization or a single store as they are equally important to you in becoming a greater and more effective leader.

Leadership is a the heart of everything when it comes to operating a business and again of any size or industry. Yet there are two types of leaders one is Conventional and the Other Unconventional.  Both effective and each for different times. The conventional are best when the business world has order less complexity, disruption and predictable business changes. The Unconventional leaders are needed when there is so much disruption that you need someone who can handle multiple agendas and complexity with ease. However if you inject a conventional leader into this type of environment you will find more chaos. Conversely an unconventional leader in a stable organization with few threats will never be their best.

However in the retail sector more specifically I have found that to win in the market place you need a strong foundation the Five Disciplines of Growth coupled with an Unconventional Leader that can deliver the most important business strategy that no business can do without. I refer to it as the Four M’s and it has four stages.

They have to be applied in the right order otherwise you will find that you have either rushed or missed an important step.

Mentor The Organization: Yes this is about culture however more importantly it is about the ability of leaders to impact and influence change in an orchestrated manner.

Manage The Internal Message: If you don’t own the message and dialogue your staff have of your organization you will not have control of the message externally either. This also ties back to mentoring the organization.

Maneuver Behaviours: This is a little more challenging because it is all operational from identifying and developing strategies to operationally executing them. The challenge here is that this is one of the weakest areas within organizations.

Manage The Customer Story: Now if you have done the first three right, the message and experience that customers have will not just be improved it will be consistent and much easier to build upon. All of this speaks to a significant investment in developing your Customer Story in such a way that your executives and front line staff are apart of that customer story. All of this begins and ends here.

The secret to all of this and the Great Transition? I’ve studied companies big and small that have been around for one hundred years to over fifteen hundred years.  Fundamentally what they do extremely well is train everyone to do every task extremely well, stay consistent, build internal succession planning and keep rebooting these best practices because it allows them to stay relevant for the long-game. How often? I would suggest that organizations hit the reboot button every 3-5 years. Any longer than that leads to difficulties and failures. I have also incorporated my own global experience of leading retail chains through start ups and growth phases and managing change effectively.

My name is George Minakakis I am the CEO for Inception Retail Group.

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