Leadership and continuous learning in the Supply Chain

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What they say
Cristyn Narciso
Cristyn Narciso
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I found this course very informative and easy to understand. I am just getting started in working with supply chains/manufacturing and enjoyed this free course.
Ankit Kumar
Ankit Kumar
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Very basic but yet an effective course. An easy explanation of different processes of a Supply Chain. The mentor has explained everything through pictures and flow charts which made it easy to understand. He has also provided the slides used in the course for later reference. Good for anyone who is new to the Supply Cain. I really wish him to create a more detailed and advanced course.
Laverne Angela Gadiah
Laverne Angela Gadiah
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Thank you for a very clear, easy to follow and concise course. It was informative and definitely on point.
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Leadership is about motivating the colleagues and the team to facilitate them to make responsible decisions and actions at the right time individually as well as collectively, wherein the output has to be making the ‘impact.’ Some of the characteristics, which the leaders exhibit, like authenticity, commitment, integrity, risk-taking, not defeated by unexpected outcomes, distinguish them from the fictional ones. It takes time because the leaders have to practice patience to turn impulses into insights, which they later articulate to enable the organizations to accomplish goals, and while doing so, builds a relationship as well. Given the importance of leadership in any business, and all the more in the supply chain, we elaborate in this article, the qualities and continuous learning in the supply chain field.

It is divided into two parts:

  • The first part deals with some of the elements of leadership  (which can be taken to be the competencies also).
  • The second part deals with best practices of supply chain leadership, which could take as recipes for leading for performance and delivering excellence. While the first part is general, the second one articulated towards supply chain leadership with a focus on continuous learning.

Elements of Leadership

Evaluate the overall performance

Individuals working in supply chain and operational management verticals undergo lots of stress and tension. Because they have to turn around the inventory into finished products with strict deadlines. It means they need to keep a tab on the maintenance of machinery, keeping the right amount of stock (neither excessive nor getting short), etc. It makes it be on their toes. Their work-life balance also gets disrupted due to their need to work against their body rhythms that have adverse health consequences. It means text-book performance appraisals, which typically rank the subordinates according to strict universal criteria based on cold-logic and intellect, would not work for them.

The leader has to understand this and connect with their employees through a sense of fairness. Reasoned actions that create a sense of confidence and trust in them. In other words, the leader has first to be a listener and communicate after that. Whether they are achievements of the subordinates or limitations on which there is a need for them to improve. Effective communicators are also continuous learners. Because only with the learning they gain knowledge, and with the experience only they can teach commitment to their employees.

Continuous learning calls for sustainable curiosity

Leaders are, in general, pressed for time, and while not all, some may achieve targets, tend to shut themselves off from not only other persons but their ideas as well. Both referred to herein fall within the category of leaders. But the one who gains the status of leadership is the one who cultivates the habit of displaying sustainable curiosity. It helps them to handle unexpected outcomes and or dealing with unfamiliar persons or situations. Such leaders add to the competitive element of their firms as they possess this specialized talent of being curious, which makes them creative innovators.

Best practices of leadership in supply chain


It is not as if the idea is peculiar to the supply chain alone, but the importance of this has to view in the supply chain differently. The typical supply chain tuned towards obtaining results within a short time framework.  It is here the leader differentiates themselves from a manager because a leader has to transcend far beyond to visualize a supply chain model that is unique to their business. It is because there is no standard supply chain leadership model that could apply across the field. Such a vision should:

Serve the business model that fits their business the best

  • Align the strategy to the business model
  • While doing so, assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, (SWOT) that would enable their team to take directed action
  • While on the go, integrate the vision with the people, resources so that pressing problems that are unique to the supply chain are solved.

  Realize the Vision

The vision will remain only in the paper if opportunities not seized for positive outcomes. For doing so, the leader has to go out of the way to:

  • Gather data, be familiar with ever-changing technologies and this is where the need for continuous learning arises
  • Take decisions, both short term and long term ones, which deliver results, solve conflicts, reduce frictions, and promote harmony.

Leaders in the supply chain should also be aware of the methods of leadership that work in the supply chain because the risk-reward ration in the supply chain is rather steep. The leader has to play the role of a change agent so that they:

  • Drive changes that would bring improvements
  • Increase productivity by paying attention to all the areas of the supply chain. From design to processes to execution
  • Identify new partners to make sure that the disruption in the performance of the business due to unexpected kept to the minimum
  • Above all, they are accountable for their actions.

To conclude, the critical points of this article that you can add to your existing expertise are:

  • The roles of leaders are far beyond that of a manager
  • All the qualities of leadership cannot be quantified. And being intangible and yet delivering excellence is a crucial element unique to the administration
  • Authentic leadership calls for the improvisation of some of the qualities. For instance, as a leader, you eliminate making causal and or knee-jerk statements. While at the same does not hesitate to act when the events call for such an action in real-time
  • Leaders have a penchant for walking the extra mile, take risks, and know-how to minimize them.

Keywords: supply chain, CHAIN, SUPPLY, LEADER, LEADERSHIP, VISION, BUSINESS, continuous learning, ACTION, MODEL


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