Leadership Development for a Retail Business

Share Case Study

Mike Cardus was contracted to create a Leadership Development program for fifteen driven, focused, and intelligent leaders at the director and manager level of a retail operation. The average age of the participants was 36; the average experience in the field was ten years. It was felt that their drive for improved numbers was causing a loss of focus on purpose and that learning and overall productivity were decreasing across the organization.

The organization wanted enhanced teamwork organization-wide. They wanted their team leaders to understand that they were part of the leadership team; they wanted them to know how to be effective leadership team members. Also, they wanted their leaders to be effective team leaders themselves. It was intended that the leaders would benefit from experiential programming designed to enhance teamwork and effective membership within their teams. The context for leadership included social and emotional intelligence; it covered internal teams and customers, vendors, and suppliers. The organization wanted their leaders to become high functioning, which they defined as all individuals committed in words and actions to the teams: Purpose, Decision Making, Expectations, Resources and Process.

The outcomes they sought were:

  1. Trusted leaders
  2. Increased effectiveness of work teams
  3. Increased ability to leverage available time and team members’ time
  4. Increased retention of team members
  5. Utilization and maximization of resources and staffing
  • To increase leadership skills
  • To develop a common language for team membership and leadership amongst the Directors and Managers
  • To complete and develop a report of a Leadership Project
  • To develop skill sets in:
  • Effective behaviors for team membership
  • How to develop team goals
  • How to develop teams
  • Implementing process and people leadership
  • When how-to, and why to use designated tools for the measurement of team effectiveness
  • Effective development and placement of people on high functioning teams
  • Self-reflection and the ability to adjust their behavior depending on the team that they are asked to lead and be a part of
• • •

Program Methodology

Mike Cardus used experiential learning simulations paired with small group content delivery to ensure lasting learning from the programs. Leaders in these programs engage in experiential, content-based programming for forty hours over a six-month period. The content covered:

  • Team-Membership – individual, social, and team accountabilities
  • Leadership – Based upon Primal Leadership (2002, with Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee): six primal leadership styles. Participants gained knowledge about the styles, when each style is most effective, how to spot other people’s styles and how to fill in gaps in the styles.
  • Transference – Leaders experienced guided hands-on application buoyed by understanding the relevance of team and leadership theory, thus, empowering them to find applicable uses for the team members and leadership styles.

Each of the fifteen leaders was required to propose, design, develop and institute a leadership project within their team. The project’s guidelines include:

  1. Must utilize existing resources (i.e., no extra funding and staff)
  2. Must include staff in goal setting, decision-making, and problem-solving; delegation and coaching were also to be used
  3. Must be in line with the organization’s mission, values, and culture
  4. Must be measurable
• • •


The leadership team was able to reduce overtime, increase the average sale to the customer, and increase team members’ average sales commission. This was accomplished through the leadership team examining their existing processes and re-organizing them to return maximum results.

Employee satisfaction (gathered via employee surveys) increased, showing that leaders were better at developing strengths and creating challenging yet achievable team members’ goals.

Leaders were able to create a system for employees to fill in shifts at other locations. This system enabled the organization to maximize employee and leadership time and lessen burnout and stress among team members.