Leadership: How To Win In Today’s Marketplace

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When you chat with the COO of a 7,000-person retail chain, along with its VP of Ops leading 70+ locations, you listen.

Visiting with Steve Black and Clint Adams of Rouses Markets, I discovered that rumors of the death of “brick & mortar” retailers are greatly exaggerated. This thriving southern U.S. grocery chain founded in 1923 plans to be around for a long, long time.

Here’s what Steve, Clint, and the Rouses leadership team are doing right:

I. They believe in the “Power of One.”

As taught in the QBQ! book (Ch. 25) Steve and Clint embrace how much one person can make a difference. These fellas believe at all levels, the team member interacting with the customer is at that moment 100% responsible for meeting that customer’s needs.

“Not my job” is not allowed.

Their cultural value of “The Answer Is YES” proves it. Each person’s sole job is to take care of the customer in front of him or her. Period.

That’s powerful. That’s The Power of One.

II. They understand what they’re up against.

Rouses’ leadership knows when customers are unable to find an item in the store, they can go straight to their phone to find it online. As Steve said, “If we don’t deliver, the customer will have it delivered—by Amazon.”

Or another grocery chain.

Steve also shared, “The in-store experience must trump online convenience and price.”

No organization can “win” in the marketplace if its leadership doesn’t know what they’re up against—and keep it top of mind.

Rouses’ leadership does and is. There’s no denial here, only healthy awareness.

III. They know their edge isn’t in new-item launches, spiffier displays, and more advertising.

Steve and Clint truly grasp what many execs fail to take to heart: The only “asset” that differentiates Rouses from the competition is …


Any patron can buy a can of Campbell’s tomato soup from Rouses or Wal-Mart down the street, right? So the “Rouses difference” can only be in the staff.

Take it from a guy who’s sold training since 1986, many firms espouse a people-centric philosophy but do not live it. The senior folks at Rouses work hard to vaunt people—frequently and publicly—through positive recognition, while also training and developing team members. It’s simply part of their culture.

Leading Begins In the Boardroom

The grocery business is a challenging business. I know this because two Miller daughters have worked it.

A fast-changing industry, fickle consumers, intense competition, and staff often promoted to “manager” due to specific job skills, not leadership abilities, all make for a tough environment.

Rouses, though, is fixing that—one team member, one people manager, one customer interaction at a time. We at QBQ, Inc. are proud to partner with them in their efforts.

You see, Steve and Clint don’t just talk the talk—they walk the walk. As the boardroom photo shows, their senior team each received a QBQ! book demonstrating Rouses’ commitment to making Personal Accountability a core cultural value.

The good news is Steve and Clint know this starts at the top. Now that’s leadership!

What lesson from this blog can your organization and/or you apply today?

Win a FREE autographed QBQ! book. Comment on this blog to have your name entered into our 9/16/19 drawing!


6 Responses

  1. Love to hear stories like this as I continue to impress on our leadership the value of QBC training and accountability at all levels within the organization. Please keep the articles coming.

  2. I have never been in a Rouses store. We don’t have one in Huntsville AL. I am at Orange Beach Al this week and I saw a Rouses store. After your post I am going to their store.

  3. Promotions based on “specific job skills” instead of leadership abilities, really resonates with me. I have seen evidences of this in both phases of my career (first as an RN, now as an educator). It challenges me to make sure I view my staff with the appropriate lens as I consider team leaders, as well as my own thinking when I am feeling challenged!

  4. Society is changing, for sure, but we still have an innate need to communicate with others in positive ways. The Rouse family is ensuring that, in their area, and hopefully it will be a contagious way of thinking that will spread among all of us. Thank you to the Rouse family for recognizing the importance of making customers feel special!

  5. John, thank you!

    I still tell people that your book is the number one book for me in 2019 (or indeed the last decade! Other than the Bible).

    The power of one is it – and knowing that I am responsible for me and my own, that the person I’m interacting with can count on me. I don’t blame others, the system, my boss, or even the customer (student or parent in my case, in school).

    Still learning to apply this. Especially with family and personal relationships.

    Thank you for your message – it’s VITAL for healthy families, businesses, societies, and nations!

    Keep it up!

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