Saluting Next-Generation Leaders

By John Lofstock, editor-in-chief

For many years, retail leaders have faced difficult challenges, but none more important than finding the next generation of leadership to guide the organization.

Esteemed author and business consultant Jim Collins reminds us that great leadership is not 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 uncertainty and chaos?” he said. “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 make that separate the good from the great.”

When it comes to choosing next-generation leaders, this analysis rings true. Simply put, convenience store chains must be able to identify and groom leaders of tomorrow. This is not something that can ever be overemphasized. The stakes are far too high to play leadership roulette and hope the problem works itself out when the time comes.
Investments in new properties and estate taxes demand that you have a plan in place to keep the company solvent. Failure to do so could quickly become a multimillion dollar mistake in judgement from which you may never recover.

To highlight just how important this issue is, CSD is proud once again to partner with the National Advisory Group’s (NAG) Young Executives Organization (YEO) to present the second annual 40 Leaders 40 and Under to Watch. These individuals have demonstrated success both in a retail setting and in relating to employees, which is extremely important because retail leadership must be measured outside of the boardroom.

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. It wasn’t intentional and I hope we can connect with them for a future list. Please feel free to nominate candidates for future reports to me at

The Business of leadership
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?'”

The Leaders to Watch list is a look at the executives and up-and-comers at convenience store chains across the country. Our report includes men and women who hold a multitude of ranks and responsibilities at chains of all sizes across the convenience store industry.

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.

YEO shares this commitment to preserving values and I’m extremely proud of the work the group is doing. YEO has a long history in the convenience store petroleum industry. YEO provides up-and-coming convenience store industry executives an opportunity to network with NAG members and other influential industry leaders. It also gives young executives a platform to express their ideas, leadership abilities and vision for the future of convenience retailing.

You can access our PDF of the 40 Leaders 40 and Under to Watch here.

I hope you enjoy the list of 40 Leaders 40 and Under and consider YEO when it comes time to help your young executives enhance their industry knowledge.


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