This leadership model, when adopted, helps you lead, create, and promote an inclusive culture. Live purposely and lead positively, learn why this matters.
After leading individuals and teams for almost three decades, I decided it’s time to share my story. After engaging in conversations about leadership and mentoring many of you. I realized if I put my story into a book, it could help many more people, than just those that have access to me in my personal speer of influence. My hope is, this book inspires and educates you on your journey if you lead others.
When leaders live purposely and lead positively, they influence more than just their workplace, they shape and build people’s confidence. Leaders that understand how to create a sense of belonging for their team will achieve more than just beating last year’s sales results. A sense of belonging within a team creates bonds and breaks down barriers that are sometimes not spoken. This is now defined as inclusion.
Inclusion is a choice, diversity is a reality.
I wrote this book to introduce my personal leadership model, which unknowingly became my life and leadership mantra. This mantra is more than a routine three-step leadership process when integrated into your life it will transcend everything you do. Causing you to become a better human and enhance the lives of those you interact with. A.C.T, leading with awareness is a way of being not just leading.
In this book, I describe how to choose inclusion, I say choose because we all have free will to decide on a daily basis how we want to show up in the world. Who we want to be, and how we treat others. It might take some thought and intentionality.
The unique thing about retail is that it employs hundreds and thousands of people of all ages, all backgrounds, all abilities, and all races. This is why I love it so much. It has allowed me to learn about many cultures and I have embraced them lovingly. Especially living in Canada, where I have travelled coast to coast and met so many amazing people all dedicated to excellent customer service and people development.
Live purposely and lead positively, learn why this matters. Excerpt from “The Positive Effect”
“It’s easy to forget that retail really means people. Although companies highlight the services and products they offer, the real value behind those products and services are the people who deliver them. In retail, we have the privilege of working alongside people with their myriad personalities, talents, joys, sorrows, experiences, and knowledge. Though we throw around terms like “synergy,” “upskilling,” and “strategic growth,” the real secret to the success of any business is simply the value we place on the people who make it work. Strategic growth means “people growth.” “
When I look back at the decisions I made, and success my teams had, it was because I intentionally built teams of diverse people. By selecting a diverse team and empowering each team member to be authentic and use their voice, we were able to create amazing customer and employee experiences. I have always paid attention to and been aware of the benefits of a diverse team. I have always enjoyed learning and listening to other points of view. As a curious and compassionate person, I value everyone’s voice on my team.
Compassion is an inherent quality that I was born with, I remember being a child and stoping my twin sister from killing a fly. This may seem extreme, but it speaks to my desire to protect something that couldn’t defend itself. As I grew into an adult, this desire developed into supporting and valuing people when they couldn’t for themselves, particularly in the workplace.
My philosophy is we need to unite and embrace our differences as well as appreciate our similarities. To be able to lead from this place, you must get your preconceived notions and ego out of the way. This is difficult for most leaders. Leading a diverse team has its challenges. Patience and understanding are required.
The basis of an inclusive leadership style in my opinion means you have a strong desire to ensure everyone you interact with feels deeply valued for who they inherently are. Deeply valued being the operative words. Activating this is your responsibility, you must know how to create a sense of belonging. I talk about how to do this in the first step of A.C.T, which is defined as to accept. We all strive for acceptance from everyone we meet. This means we don’t want to be judged, if this is true we must stop making assumptions about others.
Excerpt from April’s book:
“People have skill sets they may not be aware of due to their lack of confidence or self-awareness. Others are aware of those skills and are silently screaming for the opportunity to utilize them. The best managers can identify talent and ability, then build the confidence of those individuals and harness it for the benefit of both the employee and the company. Even better, great managers give their employees the right culture where they can thrive and grow so that those abilities bubble to the surface because they are aware of their impact on others’ lives. That impact extends far beyond their work life.”
Not attaching stereotype thinking to the way we view others, is quite tricky for most of us. WHY? Because we live in a world that paints pictures for us. Whether it be the movie you watch, music videos, podcasts, or media. This is something we can not escape, let’s face it, it is a reality to make assumptions based on what we see. This is the problem, what we see then causes us to feel, and then those feelings determine how we act. This is not a new concept; it is a tried and tested one. It is used as a tactic in marketing and controlling narratives. It is used to influence outcomes in consumer habits, purchasing, and the way society acts.
So how do we unlearn and retrain our brains to remove our unconscious biases specifically when we look at people?
In my book “The Positive Effect,” a retail leader’s guide to changing the world, I share how to embrace A.C.T. leading with awareness as a way of being. By learning this method you will see how your team will respond differently to you and how your role as a leader will completely shift.
When you buy the book, you will receive a cheat-sheet with a list of targeted questions to ask yourself. These questions will test your leadership and ego, and enable you to lead with awareness and have a positive effect on those around you. To live purposely and lead positively, is not easy, still, it’s not hard either. Inclusion is a choice, and when we practice A.C.T high performing diverse teams can be built.
If you lead others and hold a manager title, you must dig deep and ask yourself these three questions.
- What is my mission statement as a leader?
- What motivates me to lead others?
- Why do I want to hold a management title?
The answer to these questions is generally deeply rooted in our beliefs and judgements of how the world views us. Titles and more status are what the world has told us to strive for. There are different motivating factors for leaders: title, power, money and what they deem as success. While others are motivated to hold more power to help people less fortunate than themselves, this is not the norm. Leaders who are motivated to grow in the title and financial status are missing the mark completely.
Listen to Rachel Willimas of Runningreallygreatstores.com chat with me about the book, leadership and retail. Just click below.
Every leader should be motivated to build a place where others thrive, if this is not something you contemplate, then ask yourself this question: Why am I leading? Dig deep, be honest with yourself. This will determine what kind of leader you are.
When I was a store manager, I had a terrible experience with a direct supervisor in my early years, and I vowed that I would work hard never to make someone feel that way.
I thought if I could be promoted and gain more responsibility, I could help more people. The title or money did not drive me, helping others did, however, I understood that holding a title gave me leverage to help others that were not able to help themselves which today we call being an Ally. Leaders must balance reward and risk every day, for their career and personal reputation. Leaders must learn how to live purposely and lead positively. And find a way to be an Ally when necessary.
In our latest course on retailu we teach you what Allyship means and why it is important in business. Want to learn more? Click the banner below.
In short, we have a long way to go, as leaders activating our privilege is something we should contemplate and embrace. My fear is how do we keep this momentum alive, how do we ensure this lives in business, and how do we ensure we are taking the right steps to build inclusion, diversity and equality. If you want to learn more about this I highly suggest you pick up your copy of my book. Even if you don’t work in retail, my story and experiences may be in retail, but they are certainly not only relevant to retail.
To lead others and business is a privilege, so make it your mission live purposely and lead positively and let’s change the world together,
Founder & President, retailu and Author of “The Positive Effect”