Leading through adversity, is this the new norm?

April Sabral

/ Leadership

As the world keeps changing, so must our leadership. Leading through adversity, is this the new norm?

Retail has been shifting, over the past eight years, one of the largest obstacles to overcome has been the shifting sales to online causing traffic declines in brick and mortar. The traditional customer journey as we know it has changed. However, what retail is facing today with the Corona Virus pandemic is epic.

And as we ask ourselves questions such as; What will the new customer journey look like? What will the new instore experience feel like? What will store leadership and teams need to know? What should the sales projections be? How much inventory do we need? And what will the new normal look like? One thing we know for sure is…

Dealing with adversity and ambiguity are leadership qualities required in today’s forever changing retail environment.


We are entering a new era of leadership, and how and what we do, will be remembered. Our behaviour will define who we are and what we stand for, and it is my belief, our leadership will impact those around us more than we ever could have imagined.

Leadership requires decisive action, the decisions we make today will have a ripple effect which will be felt for decades to come. Leading through adversity is a time for all leaders to rise to the challenge. John C. Maxwell says in crisis leaders stand up while managers stand down. Leadership is all about people, and more than ever as leaders we need to make decisions by putting people first, it will require us to rethink the way we function and show compassion for team members that have difficulty with change.

The one constant is change.

We may not know what tomorrow brings, and while being ready is tough, being resilient is achievable. Just when you think you have seen it all, you get thrown another curveball to test your agility, compassion, decisiveness and ability to lead under pressure called the Corona Virus.

What our teams need now are leaders that inspire and lead with courage, not fear and not EGO. I believe we can learn from every situation big or small if that’s what we choose to do. I certainly have, over the past couple of months, being grounded has had a profound impact on me. The thought of not being able to jump on a plane to visit my son, who is in Orlando for school, or my daughter, who lives in the UK, feels much further away today than ever before. The distance has not changed, but the feeling of far away from them has definitely magnified.

As someone who has travelled weekly for work over the past ten years and flying around the globe to visit friends and family, being stuck in one place has undoubtedly given me time to think. We take for granted certain aspects of life, I know I do, and as the world comes to a halt, we should all take time to reflect away from the busyness of our daily routines and think about what we can learn from this.

Today the world as we know it is being impacted, and we can all learn something from this, whether it’s big or small. Whether it’s reconnecting with our family, spending time alone to think or how we interact with others, and what we spend our time doing.

As I sit here and reflect on what I can learn out of this situation. THERE ARE A FEW LESSONS THAT COME TO MIND.

  • Everything we take for granted daily can change overnight, and how we respond determines how we influence the world and the people around us. I have spent the best part of the last couple of months listening to many conversations and choosing wisely how I respond to the current world situation. I choose to keep a PMA. Positive mental attitude – I was reminded of this over the weekend thanks to a Great Leader I get to work with.

  • Our decisions impact others. Not getting on a plane for the unforeseeable future, is me doing my part to stop the spread of CV19, (even though I am dying to book a ticket to MIAMI and wait it out in the sun). I am choosing to be responsible and participate in my community with the commitments I have made. I will take this time and see it as an opportunity to over-deliver on content and projects that are on my todo list.


  • Being connected to many other leaders over the last couple of months across North America has made me realize that we are a global community and are connected. I am truly grateful for all the text message updates that we have exchanged to support each other and stay informed. As much as we live in our own reality when a world crisis happens, that affects the world we live in and work in, (my world of retail). It’s nice to know there are others there to support, connect with and make tough decisions together. We are a retail community.


  • Out of solitude comes mindfulness. I was reminded again yesterday by a leader that mindfulness is a powerful tool that we all have to stay grounded, healthy and present. Our minds need to stay strong to lead with courage and not fear. I have got back to weekly meditation with a great mentor Sarah Hauch. Meditation helps us reconnect with ourselves and hear our inner voice. As leaders, leading through adversity this is mission critical to lead well.


Developing persistence and agility is something I have learned throughout my personal experiences, which helped me in my professional life. Raising two kids as a single working mum in retail, moving to two different countries with little support and no family taught me resilience. The way I see it, we have two choices to overcome our challenges with a positive attitude or to get swallowed up with all the negative news. Only you can choose how to react in any given situation.

My First Book, “The Positive Effect” is about to launch. Be the first to know and get crazy bonuses at Launch. Click the book below.

picture of Aprils sabrals book

In this book, I share lessons learned, my retail journey to self-worth and how I have led through adversity with a Positive Mental Attitude.

When my son was younger, he used to react emotionally, and it would make him irrational for small things. I had a poster in my house that had a list of behaviours that were guidelines on how to behave and show up in the world. The last one was to RESPOND. I wanted him to respond versus react. This is the difference between leadership or lack of it.

Today more than ever, we need to respond in kindness, be responsible for our teams and our business. This may mean we will have to make difficult but necessary decisions. Lead with truth, compassion and integrity, and as a global retail community, we will be stronger for it!





Founder and President, retailu

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