Forecasts for Christmas consumer spending paint a gloomy picture. Both clicks and bricks retailers are facing less than hoped for revenue levels. Online retailer ASOS suffered a 40% dip in shares when it announced that it is experiencing a “significant deterioration” in terms of its sales growth.

Increased levels of caution created by the Brexit debate have added to this cold spell for retailers. One of the repercussions is that it’s stimulating a widespread price cutting frenzy – across various product categories – to breathe new life into largely frozen consumer spending.

This throws the spotlight on one aspect of business leadership that is sometimes forgotten; the ability to stay calm under pressure.

It’s all about finding the calm in the chaos

That’s according to the titular founder of Donna Karan International and DKNY. 

It’s hard to argue with the view that calm managers are strong and clear managers. 

When undergoing retail talent mapping initiatives, it would be easy to put attributes such as charisma, ambition and drive at the top of the shopping list in any retail executive search. Businesses certainly do need leaders with authority and vision. Unfortunately, without a substantial dollop of calmness, this could mean rushing headlong in to heavy investment, new markets and more fluid business plans, without due diligence or control.

Calmness in retail executive search profiles

When making senior appointments, having a level head is clearly crucial. It is also advisable to seek out people with this attribute, not least as they could be starting their new role with pre-existing tough decisions to make. You need retail executives who can ignore the clamour of concern, and bring logic to the fore.

Many of the decisions retailers face are extremely hard and emotionally-charged, including redundancies, abandoning underperforming stores or brands, and risky investments to build for the future. Having managers who can calmly assess these free from bias could prove pivotal.

Steady and sure

If retail decision makers are rattled by poor trading or big changes, then you can be sure staff are feeling gravely concerned. Managers who appear distracted, absent or even agitated are not going to help to steady the ship.

There is a place for gritty determination and agility, but an air of calm can be important too. Your employees don’t need fake promises, but they do need to be around leaders who are reassuring, in control, mindful and “present”. It can relieve stress from the boardroom downwards if managers show confidence and consistency, even in the most difficult of times.

Rebuilding or re-positioning retail brands in particular requires persistence and sound judgement. These flourish within a calm mind, better able to engage in critical analysis and clear thinking.

Calm leaders – nurture or nature?

It’s possible to train people to manage their stress levels and achieve a degree of calmness. Communication and control from the top down help too. However, it’s also a natural ability in some; often individuals who are good listeners, respectful and who work at a more even pace than their peers are innately more able to cope under pressure.

Is calmness something that your retail business needs to cope with a crisis or manage change? Contact us, and we can help you to “calmly” develop your ideal executive retail recruitment profile.