If you were to examine the trends of retail today, you’ll find that the industry is undergoing unprecedented change. The drivers of change range from globalisation and increasing competition, to technological advances and changing consumer behaviour. At FLP, I had the opportunity to speak with tomorrow’s leaders who will oversee this evolution and talk about some of the critical success factors in their journey. From an operational perspective, success requires a customer-centric, digitally led and sustainable mind-set, but there are certain behaviours, that to me, are equally important. The following lessons certainly helped shape my career, and I believe it’s my duty to share my experiences as a new generation takes the reins of our industry’s future.
It’s rare that an idea gets universal praise the first time around. If a concept is truly innovative, you’re going to encounter a level of scepticism from your peers. Often that is a very good sign and you shouldn’t let it discourage you. Instead, double down and leverage your belief in the concept to win advocates. Conviction, a persuasive argument, and tenacity will take you a long way and empower you to achieve remarkable results while inspiring your employees to do the same.
Any responsible corporation should be committed to the communities they serve. We are responsible for the welfare of the stakeholders we influence, impact and cater to. We should always drive our business in a manner that makes a positive impact on their lives. In our industry, one of the most effective ways you can demonstrate your commitment is by reducing your reliance on imported products and strengthening the local supply chain. In doing so you’re not only providing customers with fresh high-quality products, you’re also contributing directly to improving the livelihoods of local farmers. The impact this has on the community and your business will be profound and it is a cornerstone of sustainability.
Building on my previous point, any business, irrespective of scale or geographic location needs to earn its license to operate. This doesn’t only come from the way we do business, but also how we act on issues that relate to our stakeholders. Their support and buy in must be earned through incremental, yet sustained commitment to strong business principles and shared interests. You can establish this level of trust, but it doesn’t stop there. You cannot rest on your laurels. Every day you must ask questions of how your business serves its stakeholder community. Nothing is static, the people, communities, and environment we serve are always changing.
Despite listening being almost a cliché leadership quality, it’s surprising how little time is sometimes devoted to it. Even more so when you consider that one of the most critical factors in determining the direction of your business lies in the minds of your customers. The concept is simple. When you listen intently to customers you can anticipate their future needs and win their loyalty. The same applies to how we engage our own teams. Everyone in an organisation has a valuable role to play and can be a source of inspiration. But it starts with listening, and then empowering those with an idea they believe in pursuing. The rest will fall into place.
A leader that hasn’t encountered many challenges in his or her career, isn’t cut out for our industry in the long run. Why? It’s because it takes a special individual to find the opportunities in challenges. We need to keep an open mind rather than feeling a need to have all the answers or believing that we do. Challenges must be allowed to shape us, and adaptability is an indispensable ingredient in success. The key ingredient here is a learning mind-set. Learn and re-learn to reframe challenges into opportunities, and relish overcoming them.
As we grow our business, and develop as leaders, we don’t always get things right in the short term, but if we have the courage to make the tough calls, we’ll get it right in the medium and long term. To that end, be honest with yourself, with your team and with the customers you can never afford to disappoint. Don’t be too proud to go back to the drawing board and have the courage to change course if it will deliver a better outcome for your customers and for your people.
Ultimately, it all begins with why? Why do you do what you do as individuals, as leaders and as organizations? It is important to be driven by a purpose, a noble one, and relate it to the business and stakeholders you serve. By combining passion, purpose, and applying the above lessons, I have enormous faith in the next generation of leaders and wish them every success.
This post was written and contributed by:
Chief Executive Officer
Majid Al Futtaim Retail