The third installment of the 2020 NAG/YEO Virtual Conference, “Effective Leadership: The Best Ways to Manage People,” provided plenty of eye-opening strategies and observations to help convenience industry executives elevate their employee partners. The session was a Young Executives Organization (YEO)-members exclusive to help young professionals develop the characteristics of great leadership and excel in their careers.
National Advisory Group (NAG) President John Lofstock kicked off the session by welcoming two longtime executives known for their skills in the business of getting the best out of people.
David Caruso retired from his post as senior vice president with Stewart’s Shops after a 32-year career helping build the company into one of the largest family and employee-owned c-store chains. He still sits on the company’s board of directors. Also presenting was Linda McKenna, managing partner and co-founder of the consulting firm Employee Performance Strategies Inc., which helps its clients improve in the areas of leadership, customer relations and employee performance.
David W. Caruso, Stewart’s Shops
Caruso outlined a philosophy ingrained at Stewart’s that doesn’t simply hold employees accountable but builds the characteristics of accountability within them as well as in company supervisors.
Caruso spoke of the value of Stewart’s Shops being an employee-owned operation through its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which is why employees are called and treated like partners. He went on to detail how Stewart’s Shops motivates people to not only have a financial stake in the company through a paycheck and stock owning, but also in becoming better at their jobs and at life.
The chain’s reliance on clear and regular communication company-wide is a strength flexed through a roster of tools meant to keep staff and executives informed about every aspect of the business.
SHARE Agreements help develop a well-rounded appreciation for the business as a whole and the role workers play in its success. The SHARE acronym stands for the five areas each partner takes ownership of what makes Stewart’s a success: Sell, Honest, Activity, Reasons and Externals.
At Stewart’s, the goal isn’t merely to train people to do a job, but to elevate them to be more than just employees.
Linda McKenna, EPS Inc.
McKenna outlined what she termed four overlooked leadership skills that rely on an executive’s ability to exercise self-control, as well as self-assessment to make themselves better managers. All these areas, she underscored, were key to being an effective leader.
She stressed the importance of solid public speaking skills to transcend the simple relaying of information to instead have the ability to inspire people – yourself included. She cautioned to not just settle for being a manager. “Managers inform; leaders inspire,” she said.
Part of being a good communicator, McKenna reminded the virtual audience with her second overlooked leadership skill, is also having the ability to STOP talking. She cited one of her favorite movie lines, from “Pulp Fiction,” advising the young executives to ask themselves, “Are you listening or are you waiting to talk?”
McKenna regaled the value of listening in her third overlooked skill, learn to speak last. She cited leadership author Peter Drucker, paraphrasing that the most important thing in communication is in hearing what isn’t said. Resist the temptation to worry only about your own message — when others are finished speaking or presenting, ask yourself, “What did I learn?”
The final overlooked skill is admittedly a tough one — don’t avoid difficult conversations. Nothing good can come of these conversations either not taking place or being had ineffectively.
Both speakers stressed the importance of communication in not only conveying a verbal message of how executives, managers and associates should conduct themselves, but also the manner in which all members of a c-store team can project leadership and combine as individuals into creating for customers and staff something that is greater than their parts.
The 2020 NAG/YEO Virtual Conference continues on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, with Virtual Info Exchanges featuring a selection of six topics for retailer-only discussions for free give and take. For the entire eight-session agenda, visit https://nagconvenience.com/virtual-series-agenda/. To register click here: NAG/YEO Virtual 2020 Registration. For on-demand access to past sessions visit the NAG/YEO Virtual 2020 On Demand page.