In today’s tight labor market and age of digital disruption, convenience store chains need young executive talent who can lead the company into tomorrow. That’s why CStore Decisions, in partnership with the National Advisory Group’s (NAG) Young Executives Organization (YEO), is recognizing the industry’s next-generation leaders who are standing out at their c-store chains for their leadership skills.
Effective and well-trained leaders are invaluable when it comes to formulating and communicating new strategic directions, motivating employees, satisfying customers and partnering with suppliers, vendors and other stakeholders.
The industry’s young executives and leaders of tomorrow face unique challenges as they grow their businesses in the competitive retail market. CSD’s 2021 Class of 40 Under 40, the subject of this month’s cover story, is a list of the industry’s up-and-coming leaders whose ideas and abilities, either personally or as part of a team, have helped to advance their business in a demonstrable way within the last 12 months.
As we emerge from the pandemic, these individuals and their leadership are even more critical. We are proud to recognize these emerging leaders and grow YEO to serve their needs for industry education and networking. For many years, business owners and HR executives have faced difficult challenges, but none more important than finding and training the next generation of leadership to guide the organization.
Esteemed author and business consultant Jim Collins reminds us that good is the enemy of great. Greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance. Greatness is a matter of conscious choice and discipline. “Why do some companies and their leaders thrive in the face of immense uncertainty and chaos?” he asked. “When you are buffeted by distraction, what distinguishes those who perform exceptionally well? The answer is not what happens to you; it’s the choices, decisions and disciplines that you make that separate the good from the great.”
The Leadership Path
When it comes to choosing next-generation leaders, this analysis rings true. Simply put, convenience store chains must be able to identify and prepare leaders of tomorrow. This is not something that can ever be overemphasized. The stakes are too high to play leadership roulette and hope the problem works itself out when the time comes.
While our goal is to shine a spotlight on those doing great work around the industry, the final list proved to be challenging. There were many nominations and qualified contenders. Undoubtedly, we may have left off some great candidates. I apologize for that in advance, and I hope we can connect with them for a future list. Please feel free to send nominations for future reports to me at [email protected]
What distinguishes the good leaders from the great leaders is the ability to get the right people in the right positions. “If you get the right people, you will get the best outcomes,” Collins said. “When you are facing a challenge, uncertainty or a question, change every ‘what’ question into a ‘who’ question. It’s not about your strategy as you climb the mountain; it’s who you have climbing with you. Always ask, ‘Who will get you where you need to go?’”
CSD’s 40 Under 40 Leaders to Watch list represents leaders from convenience store chains across the country. These leaders understand that mediocrity is not an option when dealing with the family business and preserving family values. They remain true to the high standards set before them by their parents, grandparents and, in several cases, their great-grandparents, but they also understand the need to evolve and lead the business as it exists today. There’s a difference between values and leadership practices. Leadership styles can change, but you cannot compromise your values.
NAG and YEO share this commitment to preserving values, and I’m extremely proud of the work the group is doing. To join NAG and YEO, visit www.NAGconvenience.com and mark your calendars to join us March 27-30, 2022, for the annual NAG Conference in La Jolla, Calif.