When writing my book The Essential Guide for Area Leaders in Retail, one of the biggest decisions I had to make was what the title of the book should be.

The role of Area Manager, Area Leader, Regional Manager or Regional Leader is fundamentally the same. The real question was: ‘Does retail need more managers or leaders?’

A title can be more about mindset and how people see the purpose of their role than how it plays out day-to-day.

Let’s look at some differences between managers and leaders:

1. Managers focus on tasks and processes, while leaders focus on people and vision. Managers are responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations and ensuring that processes are followed. Leaders, on the other hand, inspire and motivate their teams to achieve a shared vision.

2. Managers maintain the status quo, while leaders drive change. Managers work within existing systems and processes to keep things running smoothly. Leaders are always looking for ways to improve and empower, challenging the status quo to drive growth and progress.

3. Managers rely on their authority to direct and control their teams, while leaders empower their teams to make decisions and take ownership of their results.

Managers or leaders


If you need more leaders, you need to invest in leadership development.

With its traditionally high turnover, the retail industry faces the ongoing challenge of building robust succession plans, so investment in career planning and leadership development is crucial. Here’s why:

1. People retention: Strong leadership is key to team engagement and retention. When leaders can inspire and motivate their teams, people are more likely to be connected and committed to their work, leading to lower turnover rates.

2. Customer experience: In the retail industry, the customer experience is paramount. Effective leaders can create a customer-focused culture by how they lead by example for the rest of their team.

3. Business performance: Investing in leadership development can ultimately lead to better business performance. Strong leaders can implement change quickly, improve productivity, and ensure the correct systems are in place.

And like all job titles, being bestowed the rank of manager, leader or otherwise is no indicator of performance, leadership style or success. This article is a call to arms for more leadership and more commitment to leadership development.

So, would your business benefit from more managers or more leaders?

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