The ability to identify and hire good talent is still the top requirement in my experience. They need to be able to find people who get it, want it and have the capacity to do the work. Then they need to develop them to help them get even better. An excellent store manager has to have a passion to deliver results. Be effective at delegating and following up to ensure the store is operationally excellent.
I agree that comments should remain positive. I will say that executive visits should have a purpose beyond shaking hands and meeting teams. Sharing the purpose of the visit with store teams in advance helps them prepare to have meaningful dialog, ask good questions and more fully understand their place in the organization.