Earlier this year, Women in Retail Leadership Circle released its 10th annual Top Women in Retail issue. This annual resource features a who’s who in the industry, spotlighting women who have helped their companies grow and thrive in a challenged retail environment (and continue to do so today in the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis, which is having a profound impact on all forms of commerce). We profiled these women so you can learn from their wisdom and put their advice into practice within your own career. One of the questions we asked this year’s Top Women in Retail honorees was how would they describe their leadership style. Perhaps never before has leadership, in all forms, been more important. Here’s a sampling of honorees’ responses:

  • Sara Irvani, CEO, Okabashi: I prioritize respect, collaboration, communication and focused effort. In this new age, I believe the skills and approach needed to be an effective leader contrast starkly to a more traditional, dominant mind-set. There’s truth in the saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
  • Ruth Hartman, President, Lord + Taylor: I try to lead first and manage second. I love developing individuals and teams, and work hard to bring together people who like, trust and respect each other. I give people room to be independent and drive their own businesses for their personal and professional growth, but I do inspect what I expect!
  • Kecia Steelman, Chief Store Operations Officer and President, International, Ulta Beauty: I believe listening is one of the most critical skills a leader can bring to their organization. I strive to create a culture of listening, which starts at the top of our organization and is a character trait I try to instill in every team member. I value and understand the insight our passionate store associates possess; I genuinely enjoy watching them with our guests, making recommendations, and ultimately providing solutions to our guests’ needs. I enjoy visiting our 1,200 stores nationwide and listening intently to the ideas, new approaches, and feedback of our associates — and then acting on them. One of the character traits of a leader is supporting all team members and encouraging them to bring new ideas to the table, and coaching them along the way to help them grow and shine. Our success isn’t possible without the passion and talent of every person involved with Ulta Beauty.
  • Ann-Marie Campbell, Executive Vice President of U.S. Stores, The Home Depot: I see myself as a mentor and motivator. I have a personal mantra that it is only when you develop others that you permanently succeed. It’s always my goal to unlock my team’s potential, like my mentors did for me.
  • Anna Brockway, Co-Founder, Chairish: I’m inspired by Maya Angelou’s quote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Saying thank you is a core part of my leadership style. A heartfelt acknowledgment is something your team will remember and gets you through the rough spots.

To learn about the leadership styles of all of the 2020 Top Women in Retail honorees, download Women in Retail Leadership Circle’s 2020 Top Women in Retail issue. If you’re a WIRLC member, you automatically have access to the resource here.