Leadership for the Future

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Grocers can benefit from events such as Future Connect, which aims to develop the capabilities of associates in the forefront of their respective areas, as well as identifying the next generation of movers and shakers. 


As this month’s Progressive Grocer appears, your colleagues from across the world – in the U.S. – and around the world would have connected to experience stimulating educational programming and innovative supplier exhibits and presentations in Las Vegas at FMI 2010, the food industry’s largest gathering in North America.   

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) is proud to host events where we create community and foster collaboration across all sectors of the industry. Our programs and initiatives on behalf of the industry are broad-ranging and our focus is clear: to do what it takes to support the success of the industry now and into the future. 

Achieving this goal takes an investment in great leadership. It also takes your commitment. Less than a year ago, FMI held the first Future Connect conference, an educational program devoted exclusively to developing industry leaders to navigate a complex and challenging future. More than 1,600 leaders and future leaders came together, learning from each other and inspiring one another. 

Highly motivated and engaged store associates took detailed notes at the sessions, asked insightful questions, compared ideas with colleagues and brought key insights back to their stores and offices.

At FMI 2010, Future Connect continued with dedicated programming to support the growth of the essential elements that create leadership – in stores, over operations and around the executive office.

It’s only with continuous leadership training at the core of all of our efforts that we will make our industry successful and our businesses vibrant. 

What it Takes to be Tops

Earlier this year, the Hay Group and Bloomberg BusinessWeek conducted a study of more than 700 companies to identify the 2009 Best Companies for Leadership. The top 20 companies were found to be primarily focused on “positioning for the future.” Despite the worst economic downturn in a generation, the top companies not only entered the recession with strong leadership in place, but they also maintained their commitment to training and retaining current and future leaders. 

Even the most highly motivated associate must be challenged to stay engaged. When learning and growing, they flourish. These employees will commit strongly to their workand the business. This commitment to your future inspires other employees, too. Associates who look to your top performers for direction and leadership are likely to emulate that enthusiasm and confidence.

Over the past few years, we’ve heard about companies in just about every industry forced to reduce their workforces to cut costs. Now is really the best time to hire and cultivate future leaders, however. Challenging times present the perfect opportunity for your best performers to shine. By investing in your team now, you’ll be better able to retain promising future executives, create a positive environment and drive performance. And, yes, a team that’s passionate about its work will give you a competitive advantage.

Our dedication to the quality of our training, hiring and retention efforts is essential to success. It assures that we’re instilling the leadership capabilities essential to the creation of a vibrant and successful business. More importantly, it benefits us most with shoppers. Your motivated associates will engage customers and help create an experience that brings them back. A culture of customer service requires hiring the right people, investing in them with the right training, and empowering them with the right tools and technology. 

Recently, I came across this quote from an unknown author: “Leadership… is a constant commitment to excellence, a habit… a daily practice.” This philosophy resonates because leadership requires constant learning, commitment and engagement.

As the saying goes, “if you’re not looking ahead, you’re already behind.” It’s in that spirit that I encourage you to invest in your own company’s leadership by attending the next Future Connect conference May 2 through May 4, 2011, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.

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