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To be an effective leader in the music retail business, you need beacons and guiding principles to get you through the difficult job to which you committed yourself.

In the beginning, quite often the leadership role feels as if it is deserved – as if you have earned the right to be the boss or the head voice. Fun, right? 

But after you have been in a leadership position for a while, you soon sober to the truth that your skill set may need new and more sophisticated tools, and certainly sharpening of the tools that got you noticed in the first place. 

1) Testing

When you are new to a leadership/management position, realize that all kinds of “stuff” comes your way. Because no one has had the chance to trust or not trust in your leadership, no one in your circle knows how you will choose to lead or what your methods and approaches might be. Therefore, people will put you on trial. 

2) Consistency

In the beginning, as the person in charge, even when you solve problems, many people aren’t convinced yet that you are “their leader,” so some may double down and re-test you. Consequently, your second stage of judgment will come in the form of examining your consistency.

This phase occurs when you must show that leadership for you is a way of life, not a subject you have studied or a diploma that you wave. It is innate to you. You have a clear vision that you share with others, providing them with resources to realize your vision and you ultimately inspire them to engage in the achievement of your passion. Therefore, the rule at this point is consistency; If you truly have a solid vision, consistency should come easily.

3) Values 

The principal of values separates a truly great leader from a good leader. Interestingly, the longer you lead others, the more patient you become. You have had time to try and enjoy successes, as well as try and fail. Even in failure, though, you persevere, acting creatively to continue to inspire others to help achieve your dream. I think one thing many of us will agree on is that the very best leaders are all true to their values. Circumstances will morph, environments will ebb and flow, and conditions will be inconsistent, but values will always be at the core of any and all good, effective decisions.

You will really need your values when the decisions don’t seem obvious. 

Although you have worked your way into the leadership position, what you need to remember is the reward you have earned is the responsibility to make the hard calls. At this point you need your very best moral compass at hand. Great leaders always step up and act – and act with integrity.

4) A Few Truths

There is fresh hope in the beginning of any new business, but there is no guarantee that you will be financially successful. There is no assurance you won’t struggle or fail. There is one constant though, and that is that you will be tried, and not just a few times. You will be tried over and over throughout your career. Making bold decisions can be exhilarating. For example, you will inevitably make a choice regarding store expansion, a new retail line, or your store design. But what about when things are outside your control, like people-related problems where the lives of many may be affected? When it’s a personnel problem, it’s a more challenging decision, and that’s when your values play such a critical role. 

 5) The Final Tally

Some business people believe that a fast decision shows strength, while others believe that a controlled response is the right way to show that you are an effective leader. Some people in leadership positions snipe (not a big fan of that method) and some quip with humor (guilty). But no matter your method, if your values are not ethical, your method is irrelevant because it won’t hold up. 

Your values are your guide to a gut check.

I always review my business decisions with great scrutiny. I ask myself, “Have I done everything I know how to do to improve a troubling situation?” Then I bounce the ideas off my most trusted allies (people both inside and outside my profession). I seek people with different styles, different experiences and often different opinions. But the decision I make is always based on one important and consistent truth: Are the values of the person or company in question congruent with mine? Do they inspire me? Do I admire them and the way they conduct themselves and conduct business? Would I be proud to say they represent my company and my values? If that test isn’t met, I know it’s time to make a change, or not engage in the first place. 

At the end of the day, business isn’t about money, and those who think it is are foolish. The capital that should drive the important business decisions you make should be integrity based. Yes, they should be based on solid values



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