Training the Leaders of Tomorrow

While management is always on the lookout for new talent, it’s also up to employees to demonstrate that they are ready to advance to leadership positions.

By Jim Callahan.

As we embark on 2012, it’s time to start considering how you’re going to begin grooming team members for advancement within the company. Today’s employees are the best pool from which to select the leaders of tomorrow.

Employees need to know that this industry is always looking for talent that will help take operations to the next level. Through my many years of listening to frontline personnel and scouting tomorrow’s management trainees, I have observed the attributes retail leaders are looking for when promoting a team member.

First, let me tell you that our industry is like no other. We genuinely promote from within. Lack of a college or other degree can often be overlooked or put on hold. This is one of the few industries to realize that there are early underachievers who can rise to great heights when mentored and challenged appropriately.  As a result, we are the beneficiaries of a great percentage of top thinkers that go on to become overachievers.

Employee Opportunities
Scouting talent doesn’t have to be a one-way street. Employees should be willing to take the initiative to show management that they are capable of blossoming into a top performer.

Employees that want to get noticed should heed some words of wisdom:
• Speak up and inform the boss of your interest in getting ahead, but use your head. If you are not living up to the simple points that follow, wait until you can. This is a an industry of opportunity, but there are no short cuts.
• Always set the example for others and remember that one strike can wipe out 10 “atta boy’s.” Take inventory of your self in an honest and constructive manner, and make sure your ready for the next step.
• Be on the job at the time you are expected. You cannot be late and expect to be promoted.
• Once you arrive at the store be prepared to work. Follow orders and get the job done.
• Have a genuine attitude, greet customers and fellow employees with a sincere smile.
• Be a leader not a follower, and lead in the right direction. It’s difficult to think like management, especially if you’re concerned what fellow employees might think. If they cannot accept you wanting to move up, don’t be afraid to leave them behind.
• Dress for success. I’m not talking about a suit, but coming to work well groomed and nicely dressed is expected every day.
• Nothing is more critical to your future success than being on top of the critical issues like demonstrating leadership when it comes to checking IDs on things like alcohol, tobacco and the lottery.
You simply cannot rise in this industry without taking these issues seriously. Protecting the owner’s assets—store inventory and cash control are at the top of this list—are what separate leaders from the next warm body. You will not achieve success if you allow customers to take your inventory or turning a blind eye to a co-worker under ringing merchandise or stealing cash and other valuables.
• Be a problem solver and a difference maker. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a cashier say: “I’m not being paid enough to train someone.”

Stand up, be proud and enjoy the opportunity to take on a leadership role. It will open the eyes of management. You are being paid to be there, so you might as well make the most of it and demonstrate your leadership qualities.

By practicing these principles you will change your life, achieve your goal of becoming a leader of people and earn a well-deserved feeling of fulfillment. The opportunity is at hand. Enjoy the journey.

Jim Callahan has more than 40 years of experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via e-mail at



  1. Mike Triantafellou says:

    Well said Jim, with your permission I would like to include this in our next employee Newsletter here at Handee Marts    – Mike T

Speak Your Mind