Leadership Development in the Retail Service Industry

AEON Corporation Malaysia Berhad (AEON Malaysia) is a leading retailer company in Malaysia, incorporated in 1984. Apart from its supermarket and convenience store operations, AEON’s core businesses are also in specialty store operations, shopping center development and operations, and credit card business and services (AEON Corporation Malaysia Berhad, 2015). AEON Malaysia provides training for all levels of staff in various areas of technical, operational or management disciplines. The training programs are conducted in-house, externally or through attachments (temporary work-based experiences) with the company’s affiliates in Japan. In addition, AEON Malaysia identifies staff for leadership training to enhance their leadership and management capabilities in preparation for more complex roles in the future. Training and leadership development programs are offered through its AEON Business School, established in 2012. Moreover, its Management Trainee Program targets potential leaders of the company. It is a six months training program that combines on-the-job and off-the-job training to provide trainees with the best retailing knowledge, experience and perspective. Another opportunity for employees is the Japan Trainee Program, designed to prepare identified leaders to international retail environment by exposing them to overseas working conditions.

Retail is also one of the sectors in Malaysia’s NKEA. Therefore, AEON Malaysia’s commitment to training and leadership development has the potential to contribute to Malaysia’s strategy to improve this sector through developing human resource capabilities.

The previous discussion suggests that current leadership development practices, programs and systems in both public and private sectors in Malaysia are

  • 1. Linked to the organization’s vision, mission and strategic context
  • 2. Focused on formal organizational initiatives
  • 3. Delivered through workshops, talks, coaching, mentoring and special assignments in a classroom or through experiential learning
  • 4. Delivered to various levels of staff (management, middle management and support staff)
  • 5. Handled by a specific department (e.g., human resource development; talent and leadership development)
  • 6. Targeted to support talent management and succession planning

In sum, there are many leadership development programs in both the public and private sectors. The majority of organizations in Malaysia use formal workshops, managerial coaching and special projects for leadership development, and leaders find these methods to be effective for them (Boatman et al., 2011). Nevertheless, not much is known about the effectiveness of these programs or how these programs impact individual and organizational performance.

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