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Leadership in the Digital Age

In the last issue we discussed the importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses as they relate to opportunities and threats.  A big part of this process is not only knowing these things, but more importantly being able to implement them. And this implementation always starts with Leadership. This is even more important in the Digital Age where change is constant.

I have studied & taught Leadership for many years.  In my opinion Leadership is NOT a position or title, but a state of mind. Some of the traits of successful Leaders that I have identified are:

  1. Vision
  2. Robustness
  3. Risk Taker
  4. Competitiveness
  5. Boldness and Decisiveness
  6. Opportunism
  7. Grace under Pressure
  8. Innovativeness

I still believe all of these are still relevant and should be considered by all of us. Whether you are on premise or off, a large company or entrepreneur, or a public or private company you need leaders to run the business. Great leaders need attitude, capacity to learn, and the ability to train/teach/mentor/motivate others.

A great leader is a “Preacher of Vision and Lover of Change”. This is even more important as we try to understand and manage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and all it has to offer. The future belongs to those who embrace disruption, facilitate innovation, are externally focused, create energy within their teams and company, and are digitally focused.

A great example of this is Amazon. They have been a disruptive force for over 25 years. As I write this in early April, Amazon has just announced that it is pulling back on its Just Walk Out automated checkout system. The company will be removing the grab-and-go automated technology from its U.S. Amazon Fresh grocery stores this year as part of a chain-wide revamp.Amazon will instead offer its smart shopping carts as a “frictionless” checkout experience in the stores. The carts allow shoppers to scan items as they go and then skip the checkout line with an automatic payment. I had the opportunity to see the Just Walk Out technology firsthand in 2017 when they were testing it in Seattle and most recently in their Amazon Fresh stores in the Philadelphia area. I am not surprised with this decision. The amount of capital required for the technology to make this happen was not scalable in anything larger than the small footprint stores.

A few years ago (Pre-Covid), I heard Kevin Turner, former Wal-Mart and Microsoft executive speak on the topic of Leadership in the Digital Age. He discussed 8 ideas for consideration:

  1. The future belongs to the fast
  2. Done is better than perfect
  3. Sometimes the job outgrows good people
  4. Real progress is made when we move from analyzing and reporting to doing
  5. If you find yourself explaining you are losing
  6. Energy & Hunger trump experience
  7. The road to excellence is always under construction
  8. Embrace the Disruption

In the next issue we will dive deeper into each of these areas.

Whether you are on premise or off premise, you need to make sure that you understand your people, your community, & YOUR consumers and build your products, merchandising, and marketing programs around them. It will positively impact your bottom line!

And remember, Marketing is a race with no finish line.

George Latella is a Professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Food Marketing which is one of the largest majors at Saint Joseph’s University recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. George is also a partner in Beacon Marketing group which provides Marketing planning, research, and e-commerce/direct marketing communications for food and beverage companies. George can be reached at glatella@sju.edu or 610-304-1034.

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