retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

From the sidelines of Olympic basketball to the realities of supermarket aisles, the attendees at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Future Connect conference got a huge dose of leadership lessons Wednesday at the Dallas conference.

The day kicked off with famed college basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (that’s Sha-chef-ski or Coach K for the non-basketball fans) explaining the dynamics of coaching the US National team at the Olympics.  Coach K mixed colorful stories of superstar athletes with relevant leadership tactics, such as active listening to his players, incorporating player suggestions into team meetings and the value of broad goals and vision.

Gary Chartrand, executive chairman and former CEO of Acosta followed up with a call to “unreasonable” leadership and the importance of dissatisfaction with the status quo to create breakthrough moments in leadership and business.  Chartrand explained how Acosta evolved from a regional broker into a North American-wide sales and marketing agent after realizing in the mid-1990s that the company was perfecting a business model whose time had passed.

Author Daniel Pink concluded the day on the science of motivation, explaining the limitations of traditional incentives in a more complex workplace.  He explained how increased autonomy for workers, greater mastery and a sense of purpose are larger drivers of performance in the current economy than ever.
Attendees spent the bulk of the day in breakout rooms, where speakers detailed key topics in management.  Some highlights in the strategic management room (where I was serving as moderator) were:

• Managers need to learn to focus more carefully on listening attentively to associates to convey a sense of caring and teamwork.

• Managers and associates can manage stress better by taking time to pause when feeling tension to avoid angry blow-ups that damage relations and employee morale.

• Consistent and clear assessments are essential for good internal feedback and companies must stay heavily focused on building career paths for associates and finding ways to build succession plans.

In other FMI news...

FMI announced the Grand Prize winners of the 12th Annual Store Manager Awards today at Future Connect:

• Shawn Commons, store manager at PriceRite Supermarket in Reading, PA. (Category A, companies with 1-49 stores.)

• Allan Bussey, store director at the Brookshire Grocery Co. in Tyler, TX. (Category B, companies with 50-199 stores.)

• Kristi Masterson, store director at Hy-Vee in Sioux Falls, SD. (Category C, companies with 200 or more stores.)

“FMI celebrates these successful store managers for the leadership they demonstrate in their stores, for the contributions they make in their communities and the innovative ways they increase sales,” said FMI president/CEO Leslie G. Sarasin.  “We know the diligence it takes to generate sales growth and make a positive impact in this competitive marketplace and we salute all of them for their extraordinary work.”
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