In a world of “clicks and bricks,” rising employment rates, and doing more with less, leadership becomes a critical factor for retail success.

But what is leadership today and how does it affect employee satisfaction and commitment – which translates into customer service and sales? Zenger Folkman, a strengths-based leadership development firm, gathered data from nearly 100,000 direct-report personnel in hundreds of organizations on their views of the effectiveness of immediate managers and the level of satisfaction and commitment with the organization.

Findings validate that effective leadership is the quickest and most reliable way of increasing employee satisfaction and commitment. Zenger Folkman identified nine behaviors that have the greatest impact.

Inspiring and Motivating
High-energy, enthusiastic leaders are effective at inspiring and motiving others and often “unlock” team members to achieve more than even they expect.

Driving for Results
Keeping your team focused on achieving specific results and reminding them of their progress toward goals is a critical success behavior. Top leaders blend inspiring and pushing for success to achieve higher performance.

Strategic View
Helping define the “why” of what your team does is important to provide a sense of purpose and direction. Great leaders communicate the key steps to success so team members see how their hard work fits in and makes a difference.

Leaders open to collaboration among team members even from difference departments and disciplines reduce conflicts and create synergy so every employee enjoys the work experience.

Walk the Talk
Honesty and integrity create transparent and authentic work environments that build trust, mutual respect, and a tight team bond.

Consistency in behavior, demonstrated knowledge and excellence, and honesty and integrity build trust that free teams from suspicion, backbiting, and other destructive behaviors.

Develop Others
Employees who develop new skills and responsibilities grow with the company. Leaders who create an environment that encourages learning and analysis benefit from employees’ successes.

Build Relationships
Relationships help team members balance the need for getting results and seeing they are valued by their immediate supervisors. Strong positive relationships with team members gives leaders a stronger bond when challenging times arise.

It takes courage to address issues, resolve conflicts, and insist on accountability from all team members; but it is worth to build a strong and effective team.

Get a ‘Profound Strength’
The Zenger Folkman research also found that if leaders were weak in any of these areas it could impact employee satisfaction and commitment. The researchers suggest leaders establish as a priority to remediate any of these specific weaknesses, plus find a “profound strength” in at least three areas to build highest employee satisfaction and commitment levels. Start with one profound strength that would have the greatest impact and start building.

Zenger Folkman reports that its research suggests leaders are the primary factor behind employee productivity, commitment, and bottom-line profitability and “drastically affects an organization’s success.”

If you’re interested in improving your leadership and store operations, invest in the upcoming Professional Store Management Boot Camp, April 30-May 2, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The special program is presented by master retailers The Friedman Group. Early-bird discount is through March 16. See details here.