Forging a Dynamic, Enduring and Energetic Supply Chain: Developing Supply Chain-Rooted CEOs

Part II: The Role of the Individual Player


In part one of this series, we covered the five attributes of great CEOs, 10 questions you should ask about your organization, and 10 reasons to invest in internal leadership talent – plus 10 key areas to focus on if you want to become a great leader yourself. In this article we do a quick recap of 10 qualities to develop on the path to becoming a great leader and offer a typical transition roadmap, a skills attribute matrix and a 30-question self-assessment/audit to help you determine if you “have it in you” to be a great CEO, too.

10 Key Areas to Develop

If you or someone you coach/mentor is set on becoming a CEO with Supply Chain roots, following are key areas to focus on developing with that goal in mind:

1. Business acumen: Fundamental to everything else that follows.

2. Work ethic: If you want to make the climb, are you willing to do the time?

3. Networking Skills: Great leaders know how to network both internally and externally.

4. Earning the Stripes: Capability is interesting, but credibility comes from delivering results.

5. Permeability: Implies multi-directional data collection and synthesis across critical domains.

6. People Skills: Do you have the ability to align and motivate others to get most out of your team?

7. Decision Making: Are you cool under fire versus running around like your head is on fire?

8. Lateral Development: Are you willing to take lateral assignments in other functions to improve business savvy?

9. Continuous Development: Do you demonstrate the ability to learn continuously?

10. Leaving a Legacy: Do you have the ability to transform an organization while you are there?

The Journey from Performer to Leader

Illustration 1 (on page 11) depicts the evolution of an executive from an individual who is developing his own base of skills (technical, managerial, interpersonal, etc.) while earning a reputation as a performer to an individual who leads and sets the agenda for the rest of the organization to follow. Depicted in the concentric circle approach of evolution, each layer represents the increasing level of responsibility and maturity in key business skills necessary to successfully transform into a Supply Chain-Rooted CEO.

There are five stages of evolution: managing oneself, leading others, leading functions, leading businesses, leading the enterprise. In the first two stages the executive transitions from being inward-focused (gaining/seeking personal depth in expertise) to outward-focused (leading team-based performance). Through a progression of challenges and successes, the executive becomes increasingly outward-focused, moving from an individual performer to a leader, setting agendas of diverse and ever-increasing scope and scale, and motivating teams to achieve them.

This practice of visioning, communicating, gaining alignment, motivating and delivering results must be played out over and over throughout one’s career and is the key to moving into a C-level role.

Selecting the Roles for Progression

Deciding “how to decide” objectively whether to take one career opportunity or another is key to keeping on track toward your CEO goal. Emotions rarely work in your favor when considering job moves, and many a young manager is lured by a few more dollars that eventually leads them to be pigeonholed in a dead-end role.

Using the DNA Skills Matrix (Illustrations 2 & 3 at left) developed by Natarajan & Hammond, odds of making the right move are improved greatly. Positions that serve to develop (D) existing skills in a similar environment are weighted lightly; positions that serve to add new (N) skills to your portfolio are given a heavier weighting; while those that require adapting (A) known skills to a new and challenging environment are given moderate weight.

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