The world of eCommerce is constantly evolving. So, successful eCommerce leaders must be able to adapt and innovate to stay ahead of the game. And while there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success, certain habits and traits are consistently found in highly successful leaders.
Anatta has spent over a decade partnering with eCommerce teams of all sizes. For insights into time-proven leadership strategies in the eCommerce space, here are a handful of the productivity and managing practices we’ve seen work time and again.
Understanding the Most Important Trait of Successful eCommerce Leaders
The most essential trait a successful leader can adopt is a growth mindset. Both habits and skills can be learned, practiced, and refined over time. And a diverse range of different personality types can all become exemplary managers and executives. The best leaders never stop learning. In fact, a leader’s willingness to “fail fast” and “fail often” will determine how likely their teams and companies can be innovative.
For example, when failure is viewed as a learning opportunity, it allows leaders to exercise their creativity, take risks, and create new paths forward. As the former CEO of IBM famously said, “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” Therefore, adopting a growth mindset can help you view your journey as a leader as one of continuous improvement and progress, not one that must follow a strict, fixed path.
Try taking these steps to help adopt a growth mindset:
- Focus on learning over outcomes; perfection is the enemy of good.
- Practice self-awareness and challenge yourself to consider your decisions from another perspective
- When outcomes are reached, think about what went well and what went not so well. Also, ask your team for their feedback.
Learning the skills and habits of highly successful eCommerce leaders becomes much easier if you practice adopting a growth mindset.
The 4 Skills an eCommerce Leader Should Prioritize
Visionary thinking, adaptability, flexibility, strong decision-making, and effective communication are all essential skills that top eCommerce leaders strive to master.
1. Visionary Thinking
Successful eCommerce leaders work to step outside their frame of view and see the bigger picture. This means looking ahead to envision the future of the eComm industry and clarifying where their company stands in that future.
To practice visionary thinking, try the following:
- Get a clear idea of your company’s goals and the strategies being taken to achieve those goals. Furthermore, consider your role and your team members’ roles in your company goals.
- If you’re stuck in the weeds of your business as a business owner, find ways to get above the weeds. Delegate tasks, outsource if you can, or dedicate a day or two of each month/quarter to taking stock of where everything stands.
2. Adaptability and Flexibility
eCommerce is a rapidly changing industry, so successful leaders must be able to adapt to new technologies and market trends as fast as possible. You should be willing to pivot and pivot quickly if something isn’t working, and your data clearly illustrates that. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean jumping at the first gun when all of your competitors are jumping. But it does mean having a finger on the pulse of macroeconomic trends, market changes, emerging customer behavior, and industry shifts.
3. Strong Decision-Making Skills
eCommerce leaders must be able to make decisions quickly and confidently, even in high-pressure situations. They gather all the necessary information before making a decision and aren’t afraid to take calculated risks. As mentioned above, a leader should be willing to fail and treat that failure as an opportunity for learning. Likewise, when successful outcomes are reached, consider why they were successful.
When making big decisions, keep these points in mind:
- Don’t be afraid to get input from other leaders or your team. Aim to get a well-rounded view of the situation. However, there is such a thing as too much information. Avoid falling into analysis paralysis by gathering the right amount of information, not every single piece of information.
4. Effective Communication
Effective communication is key in any leadership role, and eCommerce is no exception. Successful eCommerce leads can clearly communicate their vision, goals, and expectations to their team and stakeholders.
To become a better communicator, first, become a better listener. Active listening is an essential component of effective communication. Leaders who listen to understand will position themselves to ask thoughtful questions and easily clarify misunderstandings.
Ensure Your Success in eCommerce Leadership By Following These 8 Habits
Successful outcomes for you, your team, and your company often relies on the work environment leaders foster. The following eight habits are essential to productive and innovative company culture.
1. Hire the Right Talent From the Start
Once a new hire joins your team, you want to avoid micro-managing them. Micro-manging a team member’s tasks is simply an inefficient use of your time and theirs. And rarely do micro-managed team members thrive to their full potential. So before you hire someone, strive to make sure they’re the best at what they do. Like any professional skill, however, hiring requires practice.
Over time, you’ll learn what to look for in a portfolio and from a candidate’s answers during an interview. Sometimes, the easiest way to bring out the best in an employee is to hire the right candidate and then understand their motivations afterward.
Tips for hiring:
- If you’re outside the HR department of your business, lean on your HR Specialists and Recruiters for their expertise. They can help you understand effective interviewing techniques and how to gauge a candidate’s skill set properly.
2. Offer Clear, Meaningful Onboarding
The first few days and weeks can set the course of your new team members’ entire professional careers within your business. So once someone new has been hired, it’s absolutely critical to have purposeful job training. In addition, the onboarding process is an opportunity to clarify expectations, introduce new team members to their new team, and ensure you’re setting them up for success in their role and your company.
Your onboarding process will communicate a lot to your new team member about what they can expect in the day-to-day of their role. Similarly, it will reveal a lot about your company culture.
Tips for your onboarding process:
- Onboarding presents the opportunity to not only help a team member learn about your company but also provides the space for team members to get to know one another. Dedicate slots on your calendar to hang out virtually together as a group.
- Additionally, try to schedule “Meet and Greets” for your new hire to meet senior leadership and ask them questions about your company.
3. Help Everyone Understand How Their Team Works
Nothing motivates new team members more than the feeling that they’re on a genuinely supportive team. When team members feel supported, they’ll have the confidence to address roadblocks and concerns quickly. That means your team and company can move toward shared goals faster.
Take the time to help each new hire understand how your organization works on a functional level, how work is delivered, and the cross functions of each team. Additionally, clearly illustrate how teams fit into your larger organization. A little communication really does go a long way.
4. Be Transparent About Expectations
You’d be surprised how often team members must learn what’s expected of them. Onboarding can be subpar. Positions evolve. Leadership changes. So, as a result, personal responsibilities can get steadily blurred across the organization.
The solution is simple: set clear and transparent expectations. These expectations and company goals and challenges already exist; they just aren’t always communicated. Now it’s simply time to disclose them.
Use one-on-ones, quarterly reviews, or regularly scheduled stand-up calls to make sure everyone is on the same page. Especially during times when the organization or team is changing its structure!
5. Create Clear Processes and Procedures
Another way to bring out the best in your team is to communicate your organization’s processes and procedures. Let employees know where they have creative freedom and control versus what structures are more rigid. Setting these expectations helps eliminate the guessing games and makes each team member more secure in their role.
With processes and procedures laid out, employees don’t have to worry about foundational things — and, instead, can focus more on their most important work.
6. Give Team Members Creative Freedom
The other side of setting clear expectations is giving employees the creative freedom to do their best work. This means empowering them to make decisions, giving them time to focus, and answering their questions and requests when they need extra support or resources. eCommerce companies employ many creative people, so ensuring they have this freedom is essential. Likewise, as a leader in eCommerce, it’s important that you have this freedom as well!
7. Emphasize Soft Skills with Each Team Member
You cannot get the best out of your employees without trust. And trust is built through soft skills, including how you regularly interact and engage with your team.
Soft skills, like empathy, active listening, self-awareness — all these skills influence the light-touch interactions throughout the day-to-day, as well as how you handle difficult conversations. By fostering trust through good communication, you’ll see your team — and organization — grow.
8. Encourage Employees to Follow Their Interests
Find ways to empower employees to work on projects they’re truly interested in. This can mean assigning them to their ideal projects or simply giving them time in their workweek to learn about or participate in projects that really bring them to life. You likely already know what a few of these projects could be. But if not, the onboarding process is a great place to learn more about their interests.
To wrap up, eComm leaders are most successful when they’re willing to adopt a growth mindset and prioritize setting their team members up for success. By practicing soft skills, you’ll develop your unique leadership style and continue to grow. By sticking to the habits above, you’ll help your team and organization continue to thrive.
Who is Anatta?
Anatta is the premier eCommerce partner to DTC businesses at the $25 – 500MM annual revenue mark. From enhancing the performance of your online store to helping you design a customer-centric website, our team offers the Shopify and eCommerce services you need to take your brand to the next level.
Get in touch with Anatta today to learn more about our services.
- Megan is Anatta's Human Resources Manager, bringing over 10 years of diverse human resources experience to the team. Prior to joining Anatta, she managed the HR function at both small and large companies in industries including media, food and beverage management, and eCommerce. Leveraging both data and people, she has a focus on building successful teams while meeting high-growth operations goals.