For years we’ve been talking about the train coming that is now steamrolling some of our country’s most iconic retail brands. I fully blame the leaders at the top of each and every company that is spiraling into oblivion. They were warned and they didn’t listen. I don’t know if it’s due to arrogance or ignorance, but the outcome is the same and the implications are monumental.
It is not new news that life has changed and, with it, shoppers. The state of retail is now evolve or die. The ‘brand brave hearts’ that understand this are inventing new paradigms every day, using the dogma of old school retail leadership as a blueprint for what NOT to do. Simultaneously, much of today’s legacy brass is bowing down to short-term profits rather than long-term evolution and sustainability.
“How can this be?” we all ask. How can such issues, plainly apparent to the rest of us, be ignored at the peril of the company?
Having been in these trenches for a very long time, here are my observations on the 7 Deadly Sins of retail leadership
- Arrogance. It’s the only path that they know, thus the only path that exists.
- Selfishness. Retirement is coming and the short-term balance sheet is all that matters to get that bonus and get out while there’s still time. To them, this storm is someone else’s problem.
- Complacency. It’s too late. The ship is too huge, as are the problems. The time to start changing how they think, work together, plan their offensive moves, reward brave thinking and evolve was years ago.
- Nepotism. A systematic belief that talent should always be cultivated and elevated from within based on an outdated set of leadership screeners and company ‘fit’, rather than subject matter expertise, vision and the guts to challenge norms. As a result, everything remains the same.
- Narcissism. Rather than caring about the customer first and foremost, decisions are based on the retailer’s image, their needs, what they want from the customer and how to get it from them for their own purposes—regardless of the true cost. By blatantly ignoring the actual customer needs, truths are now easily unearthed and trust is the cost.
- Apathy. They are unable—and unwilling—to get inside of the shoes of their customers, to listen, to understand, to respond and to create checkpoint methods for success. Also they have an innate inability to grasp that this as an ongoing, iterative process.
- Ignorance. Looking at what is happening from a narrow 4 Ps/transactional perspective, not the wide-angle lens of what is happening in the world, within culture, at retail as a whole and within their category. Thus strategies and decisions are uninformed by critical influencers, easily disrupted by competition.