CEOs Talk Leadership: Bob Peter

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Bob PeterAs HR professionals evolve from transactional players to strategic ones, CEOs are demanding increasingly complex deliverables from those leaders. HRD reveals the key expectations of some of Canada’s most influential corporate heads

Bob Peter President and CEO LCBO

As head of an organization with almost $5 billion in annual sales and more than 600 stores throughout Ontario, LCBO CEO Bob Peter oversees one of Canada’s biggest retailers, winning awards in customer service, social responsibility, staff training, marketing and corporate communications.

“No matter the sector or size of an organization, in my 40-plus years of experience, I have seen that there are several traits common to all good leaders, which help drive success. Here is my Top 10 list.”

1. Appreciate that employee engagement is paramount 

Employees are at the core of your organization’s success, so they need to know they are valued and appreciated through both informal and formal recognition. This is a fundamental part of LCBO’s corporate culture and as a result it is not uncommon to see LCBO staff with 30-plus years of service.

2. Understand all aspects of your organization

By understanding all the aspects of your business — and not just the business of HR – you can add value in discussions on broader business opportunities and be a strategic partner with the CEO and other decision-makers.

3. Create a culture of inclusivity and transparency 

To the degree possible, sharing information and plans with your employees will keep them engaged, enthusiastic and willing to go the extra mile. LCBO has a very comprehensive three-year strategic and annual business planning process that is shared with all staff to help them understand our priorities and how they can help us achieve those goals.

4. Provide opportunities for growth and promotion 

While every organization needs new perspectives and ideas from new employees, long-serving employees know the business and provide valuable insight. At LCBO, we leverage that experience and expertise as much as possible through encouraging innovation from staff and by promoting qualified employees within the company.

5. Make your business part of the community 

A commitment to social responsibility and the community not only affords a strategic business advantage — it’s the right thing to do. Everyone at LCBO is expected to consider social responsibility implications when making a business decision or introducing a new program. Preventing sales of alcohol to minors and making a difference by raising more than $8 million for Ontario charities are key drivers of LCBO staff pride and engagement.

6. Soft skills are just as important as hard skills

It’s not enough to understand a balance sheet, develop a strategic plan or meet key performance metrics. We likely spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our families, so relating well to co-workers is essential to creating a successful workplace.

7. Develop a leadership culture and avoid micromanagement

You’ve presumably hired people with the right skills to perform their jobs. Give your employees enough space and autonomy to allow them to grow, succeed and take pride in their accomplishments — this is always appreciated and fosters goodwill all around. At LCBO we’ve identified the key leadership drivers by position and are now developing e-learning programs to match these competencies.

8. Be sensitive to the requirements of different employee demographics

Older and younger workers have different expectations and requirements and demonstrating that you understand these needs is appreciated. For example, LCBO is improving working conditions for older workers by implementing technology to make the job easier and improving accommodation and return-to-work policies. This not only helps our employees, but also makes good business sense through reduced Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims and absenteeism. We also recognize the tech-savvy nature of younger workers, so are looking at “use your own” device policies at work and piloting intranet portal home access for store managers.

9. Walk the talk

Successful leaders possess integrity, passion, curiosity and drive and they bring it every day. In doing so, they set an example for others to follow and emulate.

10. Keep an open mind and be a good listener

Successful leaders surround themselves with other smart people. They make sound decisions in part by recognizing good advice when they hear it.


Read the complete feature and more on HRM Online Canada's May Issue.

  Human Resources Management Canada

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