Restocking the Industry’s Rising Leaders

July 12, 2017

By Laura Strange
NGA Vice President, Industry Relations, Communications, and Marketing

ELDP 2017 Graduation Class

No one knows better than independent grocers how a fiercely competitive environment can make the food retail industry challenging for even the best operator. Ensuring rising stars are prepared for the challenges that come along with managing in this new world is one of the most important things we can do to ensure the independent supermarket industry continues thriving.

NGA’s Executive Leadership Development Program helps accomplish that mission by preparing leaders to face business challenges in the 21st century marketplace. And luckily, I had the chance to participate in the program firsthand this year.

The conference brings mid to upper-level executives with large spans of control and responsibilities who have a vision future and want to translate it into a lasting reality. There’s no doubt that the four days of interactive, intensive instruction we received from faculty on the campus of Cornell University will mark a milestone in my career. Here’s my three top highlights I took from the program:

1. Leadership Assessment
Before attending the program, participants were asked to send anonymous assessment surveys to colleagues to help evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Through one-on-one coaching, we explored areas where each person excels and opportunities for improvement. It wasn’t just a reflection of my personality though; it helped me better understand the difference between management skills and good leadership.

2. Group Think Exercise
Discouraging creativity or individual responsibility isn’t something anyone aims to do – but it can happen without meaning to. By examining the dangers of group think through an interactive group exercise, I walked away with organizational decision-making strategies that help to avoid similar threats.

3. Action Planning
Despite participants going through the same courses, the faculty and grocery industry leaders overseeing the instructional programming made the experience as personal as possible. Together, we “connected the dots,” so to speak, to create an individual leadership skill development plan that will serve as a guide throughout the rest of my career.

This is an exciting and rapidly-changing time for the independent supermarket industry, requiring managers to be capable of leading companies through a wave of difficulties.  With the work we’re doing to prepare rising stars for the next set of challenges, there’s no doubt that the independent supermarket industry will remain just as innovative, nimble, and community-driven as it always has.

To learn more about NGA’s Executive Leadership Development Program, sponsored by PepsiCo, click HERE.