Why Supply Chain and Procurement Leadership Matters


No longer can procurement and supply chain pros live in a functional bubble and survive. Although some mid-tier and small companies still act functionally, they’re becoming extinct. Today’s business requirements to drive value delivery, speed to market, spend under control and increased supply chain velocity requires cross-functional and cross-business mastery along with technical, influencing and political skills.

In the interesting McKinsey Quarterly article Decoding Leadership by Claudio Fesser, Fernanada Mayol and Ramesh Srinivassen, the behavior that organizations should encourage and develop in their teams is discussed. When we think about developing our teams for leadership, what are the priorities? Do they include influencing, decision making, problem solving and adapting?

The McKinsey authors identify four behaviors that account for 80% of leadership effectiveness:

  1. Be supportive
  2. Operate with strong results orientation
  3. Seek different perspectives
  4. Solve Problems effectively

As I think about the procurement and supply chain, there are a few additional behaviors that should be developed for a high performing team:

  1. Learn and understand all aspects of the business
  2. Develop a speak for management accounting
  3. Champion change
  4. Develop a clear vision and share your mission
  5. Foster mutual respect
  6. Champion organization values

Many of organizational development programs are based on technical skills only. As I approach a new year and develop new training initiatives, I plan to work with company leaders to expand development programs to incorporate core behaviors for leadership. Many organizations realize that leadership drives performance, but leadership is too often considered a soft skill. Everyone involved in procurement and supply chain needs to consider a leadership program for high potentials. First quartile leading companies do!

Don’t rely on experience to create leaders.


Photo credit: Sebastian Pichler

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