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    Becoming an Effective Leader

    Sometimes, the best management tool is a mirror.

    By Terry McKenna, Convenience Store Coaches

    In sports, it is the team with the best players who play together as a team that wins. In business, it’s the company with the best leaders that wins.

    Some of your competitors may be bigger than you in terms of store count and have deeper pockets, which enables them to build bigger and fancier stores. But if your smaller company has better leaders than the big boys, you’re in the game and able to compete. Great leadership positions your company for the long haul and serves as your platform for profitable growth.


    Leaders are stage setters, not performers. Frontline employees get paid to perform operational tasks; leaders get paid for results. Great leaders produce great results.

    Leadership is not a technique. Leadership is not a title or a place. Appeasing isn’t leading, it’s placating. Leadership is an attitude — a sense of responsibility for making a difference. Leadership is an activity, not a status. Leadership is both a position and a process.

    In terms of position, leaders are responsible for guiding employees in the daily execution of the organization’s strategy. Employees execute the strategy and leaders drive the strategy. In terms of process, leadership is about helping employees reach their full potential.

    Leadership is like IT or marketing — it does something; it has an effect. Leadership enables a group of people to reach their potential, which in turn results in the organization reaching its potential. Before companies can succeed, people must succeed.

    Seven things great leaders consistently do are:

    1. Lead by Example
    Do the things they’re asking others to do; align their behaviors to their words.

    2. Do What They Say
    Remain true to their word; this is how they become credible.

     3. Tell the Truth
    Tell it like it is: the good, the bad and the ugly. They don’t sugarcoat. 

    4. Prepare Their Employees for Success
    Provide training, coaching, feedback and recognition.

    5. Remove Obstacles to Performance
    Ensure their employees have a clear, unobstructed path to successfully performing their jobs.

    6. Have Their Employees’ Backs
    Demonstrate a “we’re all in this together” attitude.

    7. Develop Future Leaders
    Help their employees develop and grow as leaders themselves.

    Great leaders build their reputations on the foundation of credibility. Great leaders are guided by a moral compass of what is right and wrong. They walk their talk; there’s a connection between their values and principles, and how they behave. 

    They confront tough issues head on, speak passionately about what is right, and are the first ones to question and challenge unethical behavior. Great leaders make people at the bottom feel like they’re cared for. When this happens, the entire organization feels inspired and motivated; they become incredibly loyal and perform much better.


    One cannot lead without putting others first. Great leaders are great because they are prepared and willing to serve the needs of their followers. They understand that they, along with the organization, can only be successful if their people are successful. 

    It’s all about putting people in position to succeed. Great leaders make it their mission to remove obstacles that might prevent their people from doing their jobs at the highest level.

    Great leaders listen and learn before they talk. They also listen more and talk less. They listen to deepen their understanding and clarify insights before they make decisions and take action. They understand that there are two sides to every story, and it’s wise to learn the second side of the story before they open their mouth. Great leaders listen for understanding; they listen with their eyes and heart, not just their ears and brain.

    Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner

    By Terry McKenna, Convenience Store Coaches
    • About Terry McKenna Terry McKenna is principal and co-founder of Convenience Store Coaches Inc. and Employee Performance Strategies Inc., where he helps convenience retailers achieve greater financial results by optimizing their workforce. McKenna can be reached at (910) 458-5227 or [email protected] He also maintains a blog at www.terrymckenna.typepad.com.

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