How can you be a great leader in an E-Commerce firm?

By Charlie Britten
31 Dec 2019

E-Commerce is a fast-growing industry with a myriad of opportunities for success. But great leadership can still make a big difference to whether a company succeeds or not.

E-Commerce is certainly different to other forms of retail in various ways; the 24/7 nature of transactions, the trade-off of direct person-to-person contact for accessibility to buying opportunities; not to mention the benefits it may present for consumers unable to get to the high street stores for a range of reasons.

The UK’s status as one of the world’s leading E-commerce markets may suggest that Britons are keener than most to shop online, but that can easily breed complacency. Some bosses may be fooled into thinking the whole enterprise is easy; that if you set up a website, they will come. But it is not.

The truth is that in E-Commerce, like any other sector, great leadership still makes a huge difference.

Why should you encourage trust and play the infinite game?

Successful leaders don’t ask people just to do a good job this day, this month or this quarter. Instead, they look to plan ahead and encourage those working for them to do so too.

This approach has been described by business expert Simon Sinek as playing the 'infinite game'. This acknowledges that success in business is not like a game with an end point or fixed rules like a chess match or football game.

  •          Over time, the rules of the game change
  •          Players also change
  •          Those who focus only on success on the here and now will be less able to adjust to these changes.

There are plenty of instances of firms who have been leaders in their field but failed to play this ‘infinite game’ and paid the penalty. From Laker Airways to Kodak, from Blockbuster Video to Lehmann Brothers.

It is particularly important for a leader in E-Commerce to recognise this. E-Commerce is itself the kind of game-changer that has introduced new players to the game and changed the rules. However, that is no reason for complacency; it is important to note how all the failed companies were themselves ground-breaking at one stage.

For example, Kodak’s technology in patenting a camera that produced instant pictures changed the photography market in 1977 but it was in turn usurped by the arrival of digital photography.

Why should you encourage trust and responsibility?

Developing trust and responsibility in staff is also important. This enables them to develop and become greater assets to the company in various ways:

  •          They will feel emboldened to share concerns, so problems can be identified and tackled swiftly
  •          They will share good ideas, so you can maximise the brain power available to your firm
  •          By encouraging long term thinking, staff will not be content just to do the day’s work and finish

Greater trust is particularly important. Mr Sinek noted that Ford’s survival in the 2000s was down to new CEO Alan Mulally giving his departmental heads the freedom to reveal their problems without shooting the messenger; his predecessor would have fired them. This is a lesson that good leaders in every firm should learn.

How can you create a cause to believe in?

An E-Commerce firm could just focus on selling things online and prosper for a time, but having a major cause people can get behind will certainly make a difference. It could be about trading ethically, or it might be about being greener. You might support a charity strongly. Whatever it is, if you lead your firm in a culture of commitment to a good cause, you will reap a range of benefits.

  •          Staff will feel they have something worthy to commit to, not just a job
  •          Your commercial partners will feel happy to endorse you and highlight their links with you.

How can BeUniqueness market a well-led E-Commerce firm?

Great leadership that gives a firm flexibility, vision and good ethics will all create great marketing opportunities. BeUniqueness can help maximise this, through good content marketing, social media, PPC advertising and much more. Working with strong leadership, we can help your firm thrive in a competitive E-Commerce market for years to come.

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