How to Catch the Right Superstar to Lead Your Supply Chain Organization

Rock star candidates possess key traits making them instant high achievers, but hiring managers must understand when they are likely to be successful in wooing these superstars


By Steven Lutzer

Senior-level executives often vigorously pursue superstar managers to join their team. Some of these highly sought after candidates have a "rock star quality." These superstars know that they are in high demand, and therefore they believe that they can afford to be a bit elusive.

There are instances when the hiring manager is wise to invest his or her time in courting these candidates. However, there are many cases in which the hiring manager is pursuing a candidate who is fundamentally unobtainable. Therefore, it is essential for the hiring manger to assess when this is a wise pursuit and when it is a dead end.

Rock star candidates are often doing the exact same job at another company. Senior executives do treasure new "turnkey" team members that require minimal training. However, there are certain traits of these rock star candidates that go way beyond simply having the content knowledge to do the job. There are 10 basic traits all these stars seem to have.

Traits of Rock Star Candidates

1. Change Agent. Super star candidates are not afraid of implementing massive change at their new company. Since they are not beholden to historical alliances within an organization, they have a strategic advantage.

Successful change agents are adept politically, and they can effectively persuade and motivate others to adopt a "revolutionary strategy." These individuals seem to thrive in conflict. The resistance within the organization doesn't daunt them. They also have the keen insight to understand that change can often only come about incrementally

2. Great Ambassador of Supply Chain. Many organizations have evolved to comprehend the importance of supply chain in the 21st century. But there can still be organizational battles between a supply chain organization and their counterparts in quality, engineering and manufacturing operations.

A great ambassador is adept at lobbying the cause of supply chain throughout an organization. He or she uses the fuel of conflict to educate peers across the organization in the paramount importance of using the tools of supply chain to increase the company's performance, quality and profitability.

3. Assertive, but Not Arrogant. Savvy managers are assertive when required, but they know when to pull back. These high achievers are skillful at soliciting ideas and involvement from team members so that organizational goals are constructed collaboratively.

Rock star candidates know that they are smart, however, they don't have a need to always prove that they are the smartest person in the room. A manager is perceived as arrogant when he or she is rigid or intractable and minimizes the ideas of others.

4. Detail Driven. The old adage "the devil is in the details" is certainly true for senior-level supply chain executives. High performance managers aren't afraid to get into the supply chain trenches and deal with the details when needed. But take note: There is a fundamental difference between micro-managing the tasks of your team and being conversant and knowledgeable about the details and metrics of their projects.

5. Terse Communicator. Great managers can communicate their ideas succinctly without losing the attention of their audience. They craft powerful arguments by conveying their ideas in conversational bullet-point format. This is a skill that is vital across all levels within the organization.

6. Skillful Diagnostician. High performers can sift through the array of an organization's problems and diagnose the source of the company's ills in the supply chain process. Great diagnosticians can pinpoint the core problem and communicate it in one sentence.

7. Adept at Creating Supply Chain Roadmap. A stellar supply chain executive can craft a roadmap for the entire organization from the starting point to the desired goal. These executives can foresee the potholes along the road and prepare the company to overcome the obstacles along the way. If all the team members know what the supply chain journey will look like, they are more likely to sign on as active participants.

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