Store lead Hakim Hudson shows what servant leadership looks like every day.
Hakim Hudson, store lead at Store 2445 in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, is known for listening to associates and giving them encouragement, advice and inspiration. That’s especially valuable today, with ongoing stress from COVID and many people considering different careers.
Companies that haven’t changed the way they interact with their teams are missing out, Hakim believes. Managers play a large role in job satisfaction. A manager who doesn’t support employees can lead to turnover.
“They say that you don't leave jobs, you leave managers,” says Hakim. “A lot of people follow managers, as well. So having that type of interaction and impact with your associates, it literally makes my day. It’s the reason why I come to work.”
As a leader at Walmart, Hakim focuses on investing in the associates he works with.
“I really do believe in putting the associates at the core of what we're doing as a company, because I believe that's what's going to keep us moving forward,” he says. “Our associates are our most valuable resource.”
Hakim started at Walmart three years ago and moved to Store 2445 in October 2021. Before coming to Walmart, he worked in retail management at a home improvement store.
Hakim’s Tips for Helping Teams Thrive
- Give feedback, but offer encouragement as well.
“One of my core beliefs is that nobody comes to work and wants to do a bad job,” Hakim says. But sometimes managers lose sight of that. “I try to go out of my way to make sure that even when I give somebody some feedback that they might not find the best, I follow that up with something that encourages them to keep going.”
- Recognize different learning styles.
“Not everybody learns the same,” he explains. “Some people, you can tell them, and they can do it. Some people, you can show them, and they can do it. And then some people, they have to do it themselves to learn it. It really does take trying to get to know the person as an individual, so you can try to see how they learn and how they process things.”
- Encourage new associates to ask questions.
“Walmart has its own language,” Hakim says. “It takes time to really get yourself acclimated to it. But you can't be intimidated by that—you have to kind of lean into it, to embrace it, and ask questions. When those questions lead you to another question, you follow that, because once you get to the why of why you're doing things, things become so much easier.”
- Get to know your associates.
“I believe that if you try to cultivate good interpersonal relationships with your associates, you hold on to quality and talent,” Hakim shares. He makes sure to address associates by their names, and ask them about themselves.
“That way, you get to remember things about people, and they appreciate that. And then it turns into just deeper conversations about things, and you can find some commonalities and appreciate your differences.
- Keep your cool.
“Even when you're upset, you have to be pleasant with people, and you can't let that bleed into your interaction,” he says. “Because some people may have challenges that you don't know and that you don't see. We have to be kind to the people who work with us. We are servant leaders first. They don't work for us. We work for them.”