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The Next Generation Supply Chain Leader

Aug. 6, 2015
Given the impact of supply chain performance on shareholder value, developing future supply chain leaders is a strategic imperative, says APICS SCC..

What traits should supply chain leaders possess?

The APICS Supply Chain Council has a few suggestions.

“We know that the personal demands of supply chain leaders increase each day; and we also know the organizational pressure to recruit and retain effective supply chain leaders is continually increasing,” said Peter Bolstorff, APICS SCC executive director. “This research report, Supply Chain Leadership Report: Many Styles Generate Success, provides both individuals and organizations a development blueprint supporting successful leadership to impact supply chain performance for the long term.”

Based on targeted research of supply chain and operations management professionals across many industries and management levels, APICS identifies the following as core themes for effective supply chain leadership:

  • Applying certainty to uncertain situations affecting others, such as in forecasting or decision making
  • Balancing risk and reward in careful analysis using hard and soft skills
  • Aligning tactics to strategy in planning and harmony with organizational culture
  • Maintaining and improving relationships of supply chain partners
  • Satisfying competing priorities and stakeholders on an ongoing basis

In addition, the research identified seven core competencies of an effective leader to be someone who: creates and communicates a vision; promotes and brings about change; builds partnerships; captures and acts on insightful information; seizes and creates opportunity at the right place and time; consistently models honorable behavior and best practices; and serves the best interests of the organization without being self-serving.

Among supply chain professionals surveyed by APICS, most responded that developing supply chain resources, potential and trust requires both effective management and leadership. While a supply chain is a vast network of products, services, information and finance that can be effectively managed in the short term, strong leadership is required for optimal, ongoing, long-term performance.

“Given the impact of supply chain performance on shareholder value, developing future supply chain leaders is a strategic imperative,” said Bolstorff. “Both individuals and organizations need to take responsibility for identifying supply chain leadership learning opportunities and incorporate them into both personal and organizational development plans.” 

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