Visionary leaders who communicate well inspire store associates

August 21, 2017 - 2 minute read

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How are retailers able to inspire and retain store associates? Researchers shows that one part of the solution is charismatic leadership. 

Bricks and-mortar retailers face huge challenges, as consumers have taken advantage of the convenience of shopping online. For these retailers, the presence of frontline employees and human interaction can play a crucial role when competing against online stores. In fact, the availability and quality of sales associates can withhold consumers from showrooming.

As frontline employees play a critical role in driving customer satisfaction and performance, managing frontline employees attitudes and behaviour can be seen as a vital for retailers. A retailer must understand factors that will keep their frontline employees satisfied, committed and on the job. In turn, that requires that retailers must be competent not only in technical and managerial skills but also in dealing with human resources and various leadership issues.

Charismatic leadership in the store

A recent study aimed to explore how frontline employee perceptions of the retailer’s charismatic leadership influence their work-related thoughts and behaviours. Charismatic leaders are able to formulate and express an inspirational vision and behaviour that foster an impression that they and their mission are extraordinary. They can create exciting visions of the future and promote unconventional problem-solving approaches.

The study showed that charismatic leadership has a very strong positive impact on the job satisfaction of frontline employees. There are at least two alternative explanations for this finding. As a second contribution, our study shows that there is strong positive link between charismatic leadership and the self-efficacy of frontline employees.

1: retailers should develop their own leadership behaviour

Retailers should understand the meaning and importance of charismatic leadership in the retail setting and they should analyse and develop their own leadership behaviour from this perspective.

2: retailers should place more importance on their leadership development and training

In particular, retailers should enhance their understanding of charismatic leadership processes. For example, retailers should enhance their skills for communicating with their employees, as communication is one of the most prominent characteristics of charismatic leadership. Retailers would then be enabled to inspire and encourage their employees to perform better.

3: retailers should monitor the job satisfaction and attitudes of frontline employees

Retailers should not only focus on measuring their customer satisfaction, but also put effort into monitoring their frontline employees’ job satisfaction and other work attitudes. To run the store successfully, it’s important that the retailer understands how satisfied its employees are with their jobs, how strong their sense of belonging is to the store’s community, and how employees perceive the retailer and his or her leadership behaviour.

Bas van Essen

Written by Bas van Essen

Bas was Speakap's first marketing manager. He enjoyed gaining a lot of scientific insights about the value and impact of internal communications.