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Leadership in Retail? It Starts with YOU (Yes, For Real)

You’re an ambitious Manager craving to make more of an impact within your store or company, but something’s holding you back. How can you showcase your leadership in retail if you’re the first one to doubt your skills and confidence?

Before you can impress others, you must believe in yourself. Mindset matters.

You’ve probably already heard that “leaders aren’t born: they’re made,” haven’t you? Well, I’d like to add something.

You can make yourself a leader. A confident one, too.

Yep, it’s all in your hands (and head).

And, while it can be tough and uncomfortable, your hard work and self-development will certainly pay off for your career.

What makes a great retail leader?

A great retail leader masters both people management and task direction while creating a united and motivated team where everyone works towards the same goal.

And what sets an actual retail leader apart from mediocre managers?

The former leads by example, is intentional and authentic, and creates an exciting vision for their entire team. They’re not just there to tick lists and delegate!

Essential skills for leadership in retail

  • Confidence

  • Resilience

  • Adaptability

  • Authenticity

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Leadership judgement

  • Communication

  • Ability to motivate and influence

  • Empathy

  • Kindness

While they’re all important, NONE of them will actually come across if you’re lacking the very first one: confidence.

And that’s exactly why you’re here, right?

Because, even though you know that you’re destined for more and can bring actual positive change within your company (and beyond), you’re struggling to show up in a way that conveys it.

Let’s fix it!

Leadership in retail 101: how to build confidence as a leader in retail in 9 steps

Since you’ve made it that far within your company and industry, I bet you already have all the right competencies (virtual high five, woo hoo!).

Now, the tricky part: showing it.

Not only that. Empowering others and making actual change while positioning yourself as an inspiring leader in retail.

Take a deep breath, and get ready to build your confidence one step at a time.

1. Start with self-development books

The more you know about a subject, the less scary it feels. So, if you want to become a confident leader in retail but don’t know where to begin, you can start… well, right there!

Read books, learn what other leaders do (and what they would never do), and embrace their positive habits or even their routines.

Here are just some of the books that will help you feel more confident and establish your leadership in retail:

2. Network with other retail leaders

This is an extremely valuable step towards leadership in retail both in the online world and your day-to-day reality.

As for the former, LinkedIn will be your best friend (or shall we say ‘connection’?). Follow and connect with other professionals in your same role or, even better, those who’re already where you’d like to be within a few years.

In real life, you can achieve this by approaching other store or area managers within your company or meeting external ones at relevant events.

Overall, this will result in a trusted support network of like-minded managers and retail leaders.

Not only will you obtain valuable tips and stay motivated: you’ll also realise that most of them have had (or still have) your same worries and insecurities… but they show up anyway.

3. Develop or improve your personal brand

Be authentic, and let your unique personality shine whenever you interact with others, whether they’re your superiors, team members, or customers.

Honestly, personal branding in retail is a must to stand out! And, while CVs are still essential, your personal brand is what can help you set yourself apart from other candidates or even get promoted faster.

A fruitful way of growing and promoting it is by engaging and posting on your social media (once again, LinkedIn in particular) about industry-related topics. Share your ideas and unique angles, write articles, and consider taking this further by having a personal website or blog.

4. Work on what’s specifically holding you back

Rather than saying “I don’t feel confident” and leaving it at that, take some time to identify what exactly is making you feel that way.

Perhaps you’re excellent at internal meetings but you struggle to connect with people at external events? Maybe the mere thought of doing some public speaking is making your hands all clammy? Presentation panic?

Whatever it is, focus on that first. Read a book, or invest in a course on that very topic. Tackle it head on with the intention to improve. One of my favourite things to say and instil in my own retail teams is 'progress over perfection' it is a mindset and something to embrace; especially when you have ambitious plans.

5. Inspire others to be successful, and celebrate your team members’ wins

Remember that, unlike a self-centred manager who’s obsessed with keeping all the credit, a leader wants others to be the best possible version of themselves, too.

So, help your team members develop their own personal brands and new skills. Motivate them to strive for exciting results. Coach them and help them feel successful.

And be sure to be their best cheerleader whenever they achieve something they should be proud of.

Remember, when something goes right all the credit and spotlight is on the team. When something goes wrong; you take the fall for that. This is where many new Managers freeze. Self awareness is critically important to learn how to do it better next time.

6. Look the part

Even though you might not be feeling super confident just yet, two things happen when you present yourself in a certain way: others will start to perceive you as such, and you’ll help yourself feel more confident, too.

  • Control your posture: stand tall, and don’t be afraid to take up space by pulling your shoulders back

  • Avoid fidgeting

  • Always make eye contact when interacting with others

  • Take the time to speak slowly and clearly

  • Don’t hide your hands in your pockets or behind your back

  • Give firm handshakes

  • Wear clothes that make you feel your best

7. Don’t forget about self-awareness

I know: you’re learning how to showcase confidence and leadership in retail, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be critical and see yourself as a work in progress at the same time.

Hey, no-one has everything figured out. But those that seem they do have often tried multiple times, in multiple ways and failed time and time again. The lesson? Embrace some discomfort and take radical responsibility for your own perspective and impact on those around you.

To really work on the areas and skills that need improving, be honest with yourself and have some realistic self-awareness:

  • Be open-minded and, especially, open to feedback

  • Always be mindful of your own strengths and weaknesses so that you can use them to your advantage

  • Consider how your words and actions affect others

  • Learn to recognise your emotional triggers so that you can control your reactions without blocking out your emotions

  • Practice self-discipline to achieve and maintain the right focus and motivation

8. Give yourself credit

Just like you’d celebrate your team members’ accomplishments, do the same with yourself.

I’m not saying that you should brag about them (please, don’t!), but do write them down and reread them periodically, especially whenever you’re starting to doubt yourself.

As well as noting your small wins as and when they happen, take the time to review your performance and self-development, perhaps monthly or every three or six.

How have you grown?

What positive change have you brought within your company?

9. Invest in a coach to accelerate your leadership in retail

When I said that leadership in retail is in your hands, I didn’t mean that you have to do it all on your own.

All the tips I’ve given you so far are more than enough to get you started, work on your confidence, and eventually show up as an energetic and inspiring leader. But maybe you’d like to get there faster?

Perhaps the reason why you’re looking to feel and be perceived as a confident leader is that you’re after a promotion or a new job?

Then let me fast-track your journey to success!

With my Ultimate Career Game-Changer, I’ll offer you tailored one-to-one coaching and support, from creating a bespoke CV to optimising your LinkedIn profile and helping you become the one to watch in your new role (and more).

Remember: you have the power to turn yourself into a confident leader.

Sure, you’ll have to work hard, and it won’t happen overnight… but that’s exactly why it’s even more important to start today rather than waste another year showing up as an insecure manager.

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