The Power of Strategy

The path of my 15 year leadership journey with Target is a tale of two stories. The first story began with my first position as a team leader, and I was young and hungry to be successful. I worked really hard and thought that it would translate to success. It did: I was promoted Executive Team Leader after just a couple of years. What I quickly realized in my new role was that the same hard work which gave me that opportunity would not grant me success in my new position.  Still, I continued to do what I knew best and that was to put my head down and work hard.  I was a reactive leader, but because I worked hard I still got decent results and my team viewed me as a decent leader.

I had my aha moment in the second half of my Target career.  I was inspired by a great leader.  She played such a crucial part in my development over the years, but what really inspired me was the confidence she instilled in me regarding my ability to lead others and make great decisions.  Her empowerment came with more responsibility, and I started to think strategically to solve problems and make decisions.  I developed what I think is such a crucial aspect of leadership: strategizing to solve problems.

The importance of strategizing:
In the competitive retail world, there is always so much change.  It is easy to get overwhelmed with the details. This may become detrimental to keeping your eye on the prize so to speak.  By far the most intriguing and important aspects of leadership are strategic and critical thinking to solve problems. Solving problems will determine your ability to get results and ultimately set you up for success in achieving your personal goals as well as the opportunity to promote at Target.

How to keep strategizing simple and where to start:
Start with the big problem first.  Ask yourself what is the main goal you are trying to achieve with your team? Next, create an action plan. I utilize a very simple approach to solving every problem standing in the way of accomplishing my goals. First, do I have the right person in place to be successful? Second, did I set the expectations and gain commitment? Finally, what are the consequences?

With leadership, your team is the most important aspect of winning.  Without the right person in place, you will not set yourself up for success. I am always looking for team members to have a great attitude, to show a sense of urgency, and to be able to adapt to change.  Once you’ve found a team member with these qualities, you can easily gain admiration from them once you show them success and help them with personal growth and development.

Once you have the right person in place, the expectations must be clear and pertain to your roadmap to success. At Target, we utilize a lot of tools, reports, and statuses to get the most out of this process. Clear communication of the goals, plans for achieving success, and the method of measuring the results are key to leaving the team member feeling inspired, supported, and committed to meeting or beating expectations. Without clear communication, the team member has little chance of reaching these expectations as they will be only striving to reach their own.

Lastly, what are the consequences? It is important that there are mutually understood consequences between you and your team member. This can be either recognition or accountability. As a leader, I wish the consequence was recognition and sharing success, however in reality the accountability piece also plays a huge role in leading the team to success. Recognizing success validates the team member’s efforts. It will inspire the individual team member and the surrounding team to continue to work hard. On the opposite side, holding team members accountable drives them to improve their performance.

My personal development around thinking strategically and critically has been such a key factor in achieving both company and personal goals. During the second half of my Target career I have been able to get amazing results, help others grow, develop and promote, and most importantly I have achieved my personal goal of becoming a Store Team Leader.

Utilizing these simple strategies you will be able to solve and lead your team through problems big and small. Once you’ve honed these skills, the sky’s the limit for opportunity at Target. So if you love leading and working with great people, a competitive culture, solving problems, opportunity, and winning, come see what you’ve got.