Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gamestop CEO Shares 5 Ways To Make Yourself A Leader In Your Company

Before GameStop CEO Paul Raines took the stage at NRF's Loss Prevention Conference today, his son told him not to be nervous  – the subject matter wasn't particularly tricky: "It's just video games, Dad," he told him.

Paul Raines, CEO of GameStop

But take one look at the company, and it's easy to see that GameStop's success is due to far more than video games. During his keynote, Raines walked attendees through the recent successes of his company, discussing their loyalty program, refurbishment business, and disciplined capital allocation. In the final minutes of his presentation, Raines gave advice to the LP executives in the room on what they need to do stand out in their own organizations.

Here, five tips on how to grow within your own company, straight from a top retail CEO:

Deliver excellent customer service. It's easy to tell yourself that "customer service" is something that store associates provide to shoppers, but the mindset should be applied much more broadly, Raines said. Every department at a retail company provides customer service internally, especially the loss prevention team. Raines challenged executives to think about their own customer service, and asked if the company conducted an internal survey whether the LP team's "customer service" ranking would be impressive – or abysmal. Why is this so important for achieving personal growth? If implemented, the payoffs are huge, he said: "If you create a reputation for excellence…you'll be amazed at the doors that open up for you."

Stay current with technologies and LP tools. The loss prevention role has changed dramatically, even within the last few years. Social media, smartphones and the internet have completely changed the game, and LP departments must change with it. Raines encouraged attendees to get involved with their trade associations and stay current with technologies.

Be positive. We all know the role of the LP department: assess and evaluate risks, reduce shrinkage, and protect assets. But it's important for LP executives to understand and work with other departments whose priorities might be different. For example, a loss prevention executive might know that the best way to reduce shoplifting is to lock up product, but how will that impact the merchandising team, or the marketing team, or the store managers, who are tasked with increasing sales? Raines suggests that executives "look for the win/win" whenever possible when working with other departments. "Merchandisers are trying to drive the business," he said. "Show them that you want to drive the business with them."

Invite yourself to the party. In order to play a meaningful role in the company, LP executives must feel comfortable approaching and interacting with leadership. Look for opportunities to bring potential problems to executives' attention, Raines said. Don't wait for something bad to happen – get in front of it and find a way to be relevant to the most senior management today.

Remember the window and the mirror. Though he said people at GameStop were "tired of hearing" about it, Raines' analogy of the window and the mirror was likely the biggest takeaway for the thousands of attendees at his session. When times are good, Raines said, "a bad leader looks in the mirror and says, 'I am doing an unbelievable job.' 'That was a brilliant strategy.' When times are tough, they start looking out the window: 'The LP team isn't getting it done.' 'Those merchants…there's no good product.' 'Oh, the weather's bad.' 'Logistics can't get there on time.' Bad leaders make other people own the issue."

Good leaders, conversely, look out the window when times are good and recognize the accomplishments of their team. They thank their LP departments, their supply chain leaders, their store managers. "Great leaders are always giving credit to others when times are good," he said. Then, of course, when times are tough, great leaders look in the mirror. They ask how they can make the situation better or how they can take action.

Though he's "just" selling video games, Raines is clearly an executive who gets it. Attendees would be well-served to take his advice: Don't shy away from company leadership when you have a problem or a solution, provide great service within your organization, and understand that other departments' goals may conflict with your own. Most importantly, take responsibility when times are tough, and share the accolades when the sun is shining. Your career will thank you.

Thanks to Ellen Davis, VP And NRF Spokesperson / Blog NRF

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