Retail Observer

June 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM JUNE 2014 42 Libby Wagner Culture Coach Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain Profit Cultures. A s I look for leadership lessons to share with clients, I'm always thinking of ways to help them be more effective, more efficient, and better able to lead. Sometimes the things that are missing from effective leader behaviors seem so subtle, so obviously-related-to-common sense that many leaders dismiss these behaviors as minor and therefore less valuable than other leader behaviors—like making sure to set a clear vision and strategy or hiring the right people—and so they quickly rush by with bigger things on their minds. I'm gonna make you crazy here with this important tip: slow down. I know it seems counter- intuitive, but the payoffs, the Return on Investment, will be huge: • Presence: You need to show up, and you especially need to show up if you're not always in close proximity to those whom you are leading. This is about quality, not quantity, but make sure the quantity isn't zero! Many, many leaders have said to me, "well, I have an 'open door' policy," which suggests that employees can come by or call anytime to ask a question, offer an idea, or get support. That's great, but it's not enough. It's not enough. You have to take the initiative and simply be present—go to where they work, ride along to see clients or take a call, have a cup of coffee or lunch. Show up even if you don't have an issue, problem or specific purpose. In fact, the purpose is to be present. • Engagement: Here's a big tip for how to maximize your leadership relationship: be absolutely, fully engaged in the moment. I'm not leading you to a Zen koan, I'm talking about how we're all guilty of trying to multi-task (which is nearly impossible anyway) and we might show up, or call, or schedule an appointment with our employees, but we're somewhere else mentally and emotionally. Think about the phrase "to pay attention"—I was surprised to find when I consulted my Oxford English Dictionary that the first definition of pay has nothing to do with money but rather to do with contentment and satisfaction, as in we pay out (verb) and we receive pay (noun) in exchange for something else. The important thing to note here about engagement, about focus and paying attention to someone fully, is about investing yourself, your time and energy in another person, and when this person is your employee or coworker, you can either spend wisely or you can be wasteful. • Response: The last simple element is to be willing to respond. This can include listening and responding on the spot, or it might mean that I will need to follow-through or follow-up on what we've talked about or what you've shared. I can't tell you how many times someone will tell me that their leaders did ask for feedback or ideas, or acted like they were listening, finally, only to be encouraging and create hope, but then "nothing changed" or "nothing happened." Honestly, you almost do more damage to your credibility by fostering hope and then not following up than you would if you never asked or listened in the first place—they're counting on you for some kind of response. Each morning I say to myself: "I intend to live my life on purpose." It means that I will strive to be conscious, aware, engaged and purposeful in my actions and interactions, purposeful in my work and in my play. Lately, I've been thinking about giving up the subtext I've probably been thinking for a long time: "I intend to live my life on perfect," which, if I'm honest, has probably driven me, sustained me and propelled me to obtain many of my goals. The thing that's tough to admit is that it may have indeed moved me, but perhaps not always moved me forward. How can I expect to lead others if I'm always rushing past at break-neck speed, four steps ahead of myself and six steps ahead of them? Why would anyone want to follow me to that crazy place? You do not have to be perfect; sometimes you just need to show up, be fully present and take notice. Often, that's more than enough. SUBTLE SUBTEXT: Three Leader Behaviors for Maximum Impact RO

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