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What is the leadership and management industry really like?

By Michael Crump | 16 May 2016

As much as we all like to disparage ‘the boss’, behind every successful enterprise is a leader that makes difficult decisions while remaining accountable for a business’s performance. If they’re great at what they do, employees keep their positions and progress upward, developing skills and accomplishing achievements. If they’re unremarkable, their failures can encumber growth and derail the lives of employees and stakeholders.

Being a leader or manager is tough, but the rewards can be astronomical. That’s why this week’s industry profile is on leadership and management. As the topic is broad, we’re focusing on two job titles – managing directors and retail managers.

Managing directors are often highly educated and experienced and can work grueling hours. The same goes for Retail managers – though the barriers to entry are not as high, the road to management can be just as grueling.

Have you ever had an inspirational leader? What was it about them that impressed you the most?

What Do Leadership & Management Jobs Involve?

Prepare to be across every facet of a business when you step into a management or leadership position. While a manager is never expected to know everything and perform every role, they are expected to guide the business using their judgement and vision.

The complexity of a managerial job will depend on the underlying structure of the business. Managing directors guide all the areas of a business, from marketing and finance, to operations and sales. Strategies and policies must be evaluated and new approaches employed. Selecting senior staff and aligning with all relevant legislation is also their responsibility. And they can expect a lot of emails.

Retail managers are focused on driving revenue up at their particular store or region. As a result, much of their responsibility will revolve around the efficient management of inventory and personnel, as well as engendering a strong work ethic in their particular store.

What Type of People are Managers?

The gap between the responsibilities of a managing director and a retail manager opens up here. Typically, retail managers must have a proven ability to deal with people while maintaining a hands-on approach. Consequently they need to be great listeners while remaining practical enough to cope with regular staff and inventory issues.

Managing directors, on the other hand, will also have a lot of these skills but they’ll also display an ability to navigate complex problems. They might do this by formulating effective strategies on their own before taking them to their senior staff.

Alternatively, they may adopt a collaborative approach and leverage the experience of those around them. Either way, managing directors will be high-level strategic thinkers who can grasp problems from the top down while exercising sound judgement and critical thinking. At the same time, they should also be prepared to take risks.

What are the Chances of Getting a Job?

If you’re passionate about retail, building a career as a retail manager shouldn’t be difficult. Based on government data, over the five years to November 2019 there are expected to be in excess of 50,000 job openings for managers. Despite the growth of Internet commerce, the total number of retail management jobs has continued to grow, albeit moderately.

Back in November 2014, when the government data was collated, there were 220,500 retail managers across Australia, suggesting a well-distributed spread across the various city and regional areas. In other words, opportunities will exist in every state and area. The key is to get in at the ground floor, make sales, keep customers happy, and work your way up.

Scoring the top job as a managing director or chief executive will be significantly more difficulty. For one, there are fewer positions. As of November 2014 there were 45,400 managing directors in Australia. Growth is expected to be moderate, too. Unsurprisingly, with the other perks of the job, the number of job openings forecast between 2014 and 2019 is expected to be below the all-occupation average, landing somewhere between 5,000 – 10,000


What Qualifications and Training Might I Require?

Another factor that splits the two categories is educational requirements. As suggested, most retail managers enter the job after working their way up from the sales floor. Often they start retail work while at high school and stay on after their final exams. As a result, 31.7% of retail managers have Year 12 as their highest level of educational attainment. This is significantly higher than the all-occupation average of 18.4%.

However, 31.8% of retail managers have either a Certificate III/IV or a diploma, suggesting a fair proportion are engaging in some form of further study. Only 12.7% have a bachelor degree.

This contrasts sharply with managing directors and chief executives. 29.6% have a bachelor degree as their highest education with a further 19.8% having earned a postgraduate diploma or graduate certificate. 23.4% have either an advanced diploma or certificate III/IV while only a fifth had high school as their highest educational attainment.

Our guess is that those who succeed in becoming managing directors without higher education or training do so in industries and sectors where practical skills and experience are more valued than theoretical knowledge.

How Much Can I Earn and What are the Hours Like?

This is where all those drawbacks associated with studying finally pay off. The remuneration provided to a manager is unsurprisingly much greater than most other job positions.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures from 2013 suggest full-time retail managers, on average, earn $920 before tax per week.

In contrast, managing directors earn around $2,500 per week before tax or $130,000 per year, with many undoubtedly earning considerably more depending on the industry they’re in.

Weekly hours required for both professions are greater than the all-occupation average. Full-time male retail managers work an average of 46.7 hours per week, while full-time females work 41.4 hours. And — roll up your sleeves – full-time male managing directors work 50.3 hours per week while full-time females work 46.3 hours per week.

What Should I Do Next if I Think a Career as a Manager is for Me?

If you want to get into retail management – get a job in a retail area that you have a passion for. You’ll be expected to hit sales targets and deal with all manner of customers, but if you have dedication and commitment there’ll be nothing to stop you. You can also move around from store to store if you’re not getting an opportunity to progress.

To demonstrate your commitment to understanding all the facets of being a retail manager, you could also look into our Certificate IV in Leadership & Management (BSB42015).

If your aspirations are for the large corner office and a managing director position, you need to consider the industry you’d be most suited to. You may have to spend over ten years – and possibly more – building up your experience, instinct and expertise to earn a shot at the top job.

You also want to avoid the dreaded “glass ceiling” – getting a long way up the corporate ladder but not being able to progress due to a lack of qualifications. Dealing with people effectively is also a must. Prior to becoming a MD or chief executive you’ll be placed in charge of smaller teams. If you can’t manage them satisfactorily, you won’t be placed in charge of a business.

To make sure you can handle difficult situations and coax out the chest-pumping meeting-room warrior within consider about our Advanced Diploma of Leadership & Management (BSB61015) or our Dual Advanced Diploma of Leadership & Management and Business (BSB61015/BSB60215).

There’s a lot of responsibility associated with being in charge. You’ll have to deal with the entire gamut of commercial issues and may often feel resented by staff. At the same time, it’s possible to develop into a fantastic manager that successfully guides the success of a business or store.

If you have management experience, what was the toughest thing about the job that surprised you the most?

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