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5 Leadership Skills District Managers Must Have

district manager leadership people Mar 02, 2022
District Manager's Responsibility #1: Lead

(Part 1 of the District Manager Responsibilities series)

District managers are one of the most critical positions for growing franchises, but there’s a huge vacancy for this position. Why? As I explained in a previous blog post, the District Manager job is the most difficult one in the retail industry

Just to mention a few of the challenges this position face, there is the traveling distance between the units they have to oversee, the complexity of the business is multiplied, the great number of people they have to manage, and dealing with each unit's particular situation to produce the best results.

Another thing that adds pressure to the role is that when the person takes on this job, they acquire completely different responsibilities that the person didn’t have in their prior position because it’s not the same thing to be a unit manager as being the leader of multiple locations. 

The first critical responsibility of a district manager is to lead the team and inspire others to do their job every day. But to fulfill this leadership role successfully, the person must develop five specific skills.

Don’t miss the whole District Manager’s video series to learn all about the 7 core responsibilities that this position has and how you can help them perform better. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to view our live sessions!


Ability #1: To develop leadership skills in others

Not only does the district manager has to work on their leadership skills to become someone that people can look up to. They also need to be able to develop others into becoming the future leaders of the organization.

To accomplish that, they require a set of processes and systems to make sure that their current and future unit managers, assistant managers, and chief leads can upscale their influence and performance every day. I have been in the leadership business for over 30 years and, believe me, this is a never-ending skill that has to be constantly worked on.


Ability #2: People awareness

The second skill that district managers need to have is to recognize that their role is set not on themselves, but on the people they are leading.

That’s why it’s so important that they understand that every crew member is different and that they are not just a name in a list of employees. If they have the ability to be aware of that and deeply understand how this has an effect on the operations, it’ll be easier for the district manager to be successful.


Ability #3: Understand situational leadership

Every crew member is in a different phase based on knowledge, abilities, and motivation. A successful district manager is aware of that and can quickly identify what type of leadership a person needs, whether it is lack of desire, poor training, or not enough capabilities, and can address them correctly.

Do you need more leaders? Review these tips to help you recruit your next District Manager. 


Ability #4: Understand personality traits

Leaders used to talk about The Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. But I think this is an old-fashioned rule. The new rule is The Platinum Rule, “Treat others the way they want to be treated”

The district managers have to be able to comprehend that people have innate personalities that are as unique as people themselves. Having a process to identify this and adjust how they approach the crew members is critical to becoming a successful leader.


Ability #5: Drive company culture

When it comes to leadership, having the right company culture and job environment is critical to attracting new employees and also to make people want to stay with you in the long run. 

One of the biggest challenges that a district manager faces is to keep under control the turnover rate. To solve this issue, it’s critical they drive company culture in the way that it inspires people to have a great experience and support each other. 

This is what Nigel Travis, former CEO of Dunkin Donuts, advises to transform your business culture.


As you can see, a lot of things go into the particular responsibility of leading, and there are important skills needed to improve the district manager’s execution every day. But there’s a hidden reality: most of the new district managers have no proper training, making it very hard for them to accomplish this responsibility with a high level of success.

Thankfully, The American Franchise Academy has a training program for district managers, where we help them acquire all the skills and abilities they need to be successful in their job. Visit to join our next free information session where you can learn more about our program. 

Don’t forget to give us a thumbs up on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to follow the rest of the District Manager’s video series.



  • Do your district managers have the leadership set of skills they need to be successful?
  • Are they identifying, inspiring, and developing the future leaders of your organization?
  • How much do they use situational leadership and understand personality traits?
  • Do they know and support your company culture?