Committing to Leadership: Bob Oberosler Shares the Secrets of His Success

Being a leader is not simply someone you are, it is something you do. It is not a person you become when you reach a certain pay grade or position. It is something seen and experienced through your actions as well as your words, building trust, influencing others, and inspiring a vision others want to follow.

In asset protection, our leaders come in all forms. It is the diversity of this leadership that has brought us to where we are—not based on who we are, but the way we approach the world around us. Diversity of thought is inspired by those with the courage and fortitude to move us in new and exciting directions. It is something we strive for in ourselves, something we admire and appreciate in those around us, and something we celebrate when reflecting on those who helped set the tone for the industry.

Bob Oberosler has always been one of those individuals. Having recently celebrated forty-seven years in the industry, Bob has evolved through the days of “security” to today’s asset protection focus, serving as a partner in the development and profitability of the retail business. Beyond holding several leadership positions in asset protection over his career, he has held several non-AP positions that have provided the ability to view the profession from a broad business perspective.

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As a forward-thinking leader, Bob has always brought incredible energy and focus to his work. He built strong, passionate teams that delivered results consistently, and took pride in mentoring talented leaders. He brought that same passion as a board member with the Loss Prevention Foundation, contributing ideas, challenging the status quo, and encouraging others to look at things globally while elevating performance to a higher standard.

Bob recently announced his retirement from the industry. But before we let him move on to the next chapter in his life, we asked him to spend some time sharing his perspectives on leadership, lessons learned, and all things asset protection.

Jacque Brittain: What are the changes to the industry during your tenure that you feel have had the greatest impact on the way the profession operates and is perceived?

Bob Oberosler: When you look at the hastened pace and volume of information that we must deal with on a regular and consistent basis, the “things that never happen” keep happening—and LP always seems to be in the inner circle of how to respond. The willingness to embrace innovation and creativity, coupled with the networking that takes place across the industry, can make a tremendous difference. These are the kinds of things that have the greatest impact on our success and the way we are perceived.

Jacque: Who or what has had the greatest impact on the way you lead?

Bob: I believe that all the people I have worked for, worked with, or have managed over my career have inspired the way I try to lead. I can look back at a long list of great leaders I have known and worked with and attribute some quality or trait I incorporated into my own personal leadership style. As I reflect on all those influences, I cherry-picked the leadership attributes, mannerisms, and language that worked for me and made them my own. In the same respect, I also paid attention to the things I liked least about bad leaders to provide perspective on what not to do. Up until a month before I retired, I was still trying to be a better leader every day and be the best boss I could be. There were times when I didn’t always feel that I was the best boss I could be, but I was always willing to learn, recognize my opportunities, and work to get better.

To be honest, I really didn’t understand how important leadership was until my second VP position. How we lead, and the approach we take to leadership, is everything. Once I learned this lesson, I started reading leadership books, listening to leadership cassette tapes (yep, I am that old), and reading the business section every day.

Jacque: Let’s talk about innovation as a general principle. How have you supported this and why do you think it’s so important?

Bob: The challenges that asset protection faces on an ongoing basis are continually escalating and evolving, and innovation is a way to meet these challenges. When we are lucky enough, we achieve results and get ahead of the curve. Every asset protection leader should be dedicating 10 percent of their time to innovation, learning, creating, and networking. We must be willing to get involved and stretch the way we see things. Organizations like the LPRC, LP Magazine, the Loss Prevention Foundation, and RILA are extremely valuable to this endeavor.

When there is no current solution, you must be willing to look for ways to create one, leveraging your influence with vendors that truly know how to listen and will spend time and resources to come up with the answers we are looking for. Also, we must be willing to look outside our own box and comfort zone. For example, our European friends often seem to be ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative shrink reduction and sales-enhancing solutions. Taking a look at the way they do things and applying those concepts to the way we do things here will benefit us all in the long run.

Jacque: In past conversations you’ve discussed the importance of “getting people on board by making them part of the success.” What do you mean by that and how do you recommend we go about it?

Bob: Let’s look at an example: In every organization I have worked for, I have run across a person or two that seems to challenge everything we want to implement or change. In such situations I have often approached these people and asked them to pilot something for me. I reinforce that I know they will take a critical and honest perspective and we need to find out quickly whether a particular approach will work for us.

If the first project I give them to pilot does not work, I’ll ask for feedback on what they feel can make it work, and then continue the pilot with their recommendations. If it still does not work, I suggest we pause and evaluate later. If the first pilot fails and is paused, I thank the leader for his or her efforts and honest approach, thank them for their evaluation, tell them how much their efforts are valued, and have the next project lined up for them to pilot. By taking this approach and allowing them that autonomy, the leader takes ownership, becoming a champion for the project. I let them lead and run with it, and then give them all the credit. By providing opportunities to demonstrate how their efforts and opinions are appreciated and respected, they can best see themselves as part of the success.

Jacque: You’ve said that whether you agree or disagree with a message, approach, or idea, it’s important that your voice is heard. Can you expand on that?

Bob: Sometimes it takes time for people to process a thought or idea that is not aligned with their thinking or common practice. I can’t tell you how many times late in the evening or over the weekend I have thought about something someone said during a meeting or call and it occurred to me the person was right, or at least partially right. By rethinking and re-evaluating the idea or opinion, it helped me think through a better solution or stimulated an additional need for information.

It makes me wonder how many ideas or thoughts were not shared that could have helped me along the way as a leader. As I matured as a leader, I’ve realized there have been times when I did not always create an environment where people felt their contribution was valued. Over time I’ve learned to become a better listener, presenting my ideas in a more humbling and less “know it all” way. Too often we open our mouths and shut out important insights and information. By opening our minds and encouraging others to participate, we create better results and build better leaders.

Jacque: What do you think is the greatest misconception about the role of asset protection?

Bob: While it may or may not be a misconception, it is an important distinction: Asset protection leads the effort to help keep people safer, reduce shrink, handle critical incidents, and interact with every area of the business—dozens of vendor partners, government agencies, and peers. We need to be flexible and adjust to the changing needs of the organization and be available 24/7. We must be willing participants in change and willing partners as the business grows and evolves. Pretty simple.

Jacque: What traits or qualities are most important when building relationships with our retail partners?

Bob: Building relationships with all our partners requires listening to really understand while collaborating on winning solutions. This will include those times when we must make the tough decisions while ensuring the top leaders understand the “why.” Great leaders must also take every opportunity to actually schedule time to give strategic recognition. This is a powerful leadership tool and helps build genuine partnerships.

While we must be willing to look in the mirror, it’s critical to keep other perspectives front and center as well. For example, it’s really hard to be a store manager. They have dozens of bosses and even more responsibilities. Never stop listening to the operators and their pain points. Feedback is a gift. Make it easy for them to speak their mind and ask questions. Ultimately, we all have the same goals and we should be working together to get there.

Jacque: What are the most important qualities you look for in a solution provider partner?

Bob: It is essential to have solution provider partners that are adaptable, flexible, and willing to change with you. They should help us explore, implement, and establish the right solutions with credible proof of return on investment. They must be willing to not only hear you but listen, creating cost-effective new solutions that help drive sales and the customer experience while reducing shrink. They should look to be revolutionary with solutions when necessary, providing innovations that build on top of current solutions and investments. This shouldn’t just be something we look for, but something we expect.

Jacque: What do you consider to be some of the highlights of your career?

Bob: Success is something we share with others. I am very proud to say that in some way I served a small part in helping twenty-one people grow and develop to become vice president, leading their own programs. I’m honored for the opportunity to work with such strong leaders throughout my career.

Beyond that, I’m grateful for my tenacity in finding and implementing solutions that helped keep our store teams safer. I’ve held many different roles over the course of my career, and I am thankful for the opportunity to contribute in so many ways. I’ve always looked to provide a style of leadership that instilled a sense of safety and security above and beyond the results on a ledger, and share that same sense of responsibility with those I’ve worked with.

Jacque: Everyone in some way has an ego, and sometimes that can get in the way. What are your thoughts on the best ways to balance ego and humility?

Bob: Both ego and humility come in many forms and it’s important to recognize how both can influence our decisions and our style of leadership. Age, maturity, wisdom, failures, passion, and the commitment to becoming a better leader and boss are important influences. It’s important to work every day to find the right balance.

We must be willing to learn from mistakes or situations we could have handled better. We must appreciate the power of a thoughtful apology and making personal course corrections. I believe leaders need to understand their personal brand as it stands today and then be willing to make the necessary course corrections to become the brand they want to project. To find balance, you must be willing to look for it. Being in asset protection can humble a person, especially in times of tragedy—which we deal with far too often.

Jacque: What advice would you like to share with current leaders across the industry?

Bob: I’ve been very blessed, and in many ways lucky. Over the course of my career, I’ve been surrounded by great people and talented support. Over a lifetime of learning this leads to wins and losses, great ideas, and occasional failures. But success is about attitude. You must jump in and expand on the wins and jettison the failures quickly. You must commit to being a better leader, building a better team, and being a better business partner. You must have the courage to continue your path if you feel it’s right, even if it’s hard.

We are part of an evolving industry, and it’s essential to always be looking forward. This requires an understanding of the power of actionable analytics and technology. We should strive for continuous improvements in prescriptive analytics which includes finding ways to become more proficient in programs like Excel and Outlook and leveraging advanced virtual meetings. Stay current, keep an eye on the future, and respect the power of technology. Artificial intelligence is here, so be ready. It’s important to think about the best ways to leverage this power for our industry and adjust to the new challenges this is going to create for asset protection. Finally, don’t just answer questions—ask them. Start asking the questions that come to mind so we can work together to find solutions. When you think it through, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what we are here for.

Jacque Brittain
Jac Brittain

Jacque Brittain, LPC, is editorial director for LP Magazine. Prior to joining the magazine, he was director of learning design and certification for Learn It Solutions, where he helped coordinate and write the online coursework for the Loss Prevention Foundation’s LPC and LPQ certifications. Earlier in his career, Brittain was vice president of operations for one of the largest executive recruiting firms in the LP industry. He can be reached at


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