Canadian Retailer - Spring 2011 - (Page 12)
Effective leadership has never been so critical to the success of a retail business. To help address many of ther top-of-mind leadership issues affecting the industry today, throughout the year Canadian Retailer will be featuring the 2011 Leadership Series – six columns written by six top retail leaders, exploring such issues as leadership development, coaching and mentoring, leading amid adversity and succession planning. This, the second instalment of the series, explores the importance of leadership assessment in order to hire and progress the right people within the organization.
ARE LEADERS BORN OR MADE?
By Alain Baird, President, The Stitch It Group Inc.
ow many times has the question been asked: Are leader born or made? And, how many business scholars and gurus have attempted to answer it? Countless people come to mind. However, one of the most revered of them all - Peter Drucker – says, for the most part, that leaders are made. Personally, I tend to agree with him to an extent. It’s true that skills and competencies are most often learned. But what about attributes like integrity and common sense? Are they learned or inherited through the gene pool? Frankly, I don’t know. But I do know this: your ability to breed leaders at every level within your organization will define how successful you will be in growing your business. Attributes, also known as a person’s qualities or characteristics, are not always evident during an initial employment interview, so every effort must be made to determine these attributes to properly assess whether or not the candidate is the right fit for your organization. At Stitch It Group Inc., we believe that the “right fit philosophy” applies at every level, for every hire, especially within our leadership ranks, whether the hire is made to fill a position as store manager, regional supervisor, or for a position on our most senior team. At Stitch It the attributes we look for are
inclusive but not exclusive of the following: first and foremost the candidate must be “people-centric” both at the associate and customer level. We then want to know if they can set priorities, solve problems, and whether or not they have the ability to think creatively. The candidate also needs to have a positive attitude, the ability to make difficult decisions, to be courageous, to inspire, to walk the talk. And, beyond all of this, the candidate must also believe in integrity and ethics and be able to demonstrate common sense. Competencies, on the other hand, speak to the candidates’ skills, which as we know, differ by role assigned and industry. However, I believe there is one competency that is not only transferable, but mandatory for successful leadership. If time has taught us anything at Stitch It, it’s that the candidate must, above all else, be able to communicate, communicate and communicate some more… effectively. Their efforts to plan, set goals, develop and implement action plans and build teams will be greatly hampered if they cannot communicate effectively with their staff. Finally, once we’ve identified the skill sets and aptitudes possessed by the candidate, we come to the process used to assess and identify the right people for advancement within the company. At the Senior Team level, once we feel that the candidate will fit
into our culture, we seal the deal based on their validated specific skills. At the store and supervisory level the process starts with observation, specifically, the results they produce. Once identified, the individual is tested by being given stretch assignments and goals. The results of their efforts rule the day with respect to their advancement. With very few exceptions, the cream rises to the top, and we are seldom disappointed. As you can see, the process involved in identifying “the right fit” for Stitch It is not very scientific… but at the end of the day it always comes down to this tried and tested cocktail - a lot of experience, a dash of sound judgement and a heavy dose of intuition, laced with trial and error and allowed to ferment for results.
12 | canadian retailer | spring 2011 | retailcouncil.org/cdnretailer
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Retailer - Spring 2011
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2011
Table of Contents
In Your Best Interest
RCC Forms New Grocery Division
The Titans of Mobile
Promoting Your Brand in the Digital Age
We’re Number 1
Virtually Revolutionizing Online Behaviour
Back to Front
Trending Consumer Behaviour… Online
Have Your Say
Canadian Retailer - Spring 2011