I have been positively influenced by the writings of Peter Drucker and John Wooden, and have been mentored for the last seven years by Richard Muther, “the Drucker of industrial engineering.” Also, as a member of large enterprises such as Coca Cola, PepsiCo, and Anheuser Busch InBev, I have had the opportunity to observe great leaders, to recognize what works and what doesn’t, and to build and lead supply chain teams. Based on these experiences, I believe there are three key components of a world-class supply chain team: People, Purpose, and Partnership. These three “P”components drive a fourth: Performance.
Although supply chain management is considered to be primarily about processes and technology, people and their interactions actually are more important to effective supply chain management. In a supply chain team there are two key players: the associate and the team leader.
The role of the associate is to discern: envision what to do; devise: undertake a systematic approach to identifying solutions; and decide: determine and align what is best holistically from several alternatives. The role of an associate is akin to that of an air traffic controller. He/she has to keep tabs on 50 flights in the air but, at the same time, must focus on the one key flight that requires his/her attention to safely land. While technical expertise is a vital prerequisite, it is the associate’s emotional intelligence and soft skills that create business value. Based on my experience, a successful team associate effectively displays the i14 qualities:
i. Integrity—core who you are
ii. Ingenuity—visionary who thinks beyond today
iii. Intrapreneurial—thinks like an owner and focuses on being a problem finder
iv. Intuitive—presciently attuned and flexible, anticipates needs/problems
v. Insightful—ability to identify distinct patterns logically and systematically
vi. Inspire—mobilizes/motivates others to achieve shared goals
vii. Integrative—unifies through active listening and leveraging informal relationships
viii. Intelligent—balances analytical thinking with emotional intelligence
ix. Improviser—adapts to changing circumstances and devises alternate solutions
x. Inclusive—thinks beyond him/herself and keeps everyone on the same page
xi. Influential—persuasive in aligning stakeholders at all levels
xii. Irrepressible—demonstrates exuberance and resilience, and acts with confidence and persistence
xiii. Insatiable—develops “mindware” by displaying intellectual curiosity and is a continuous learner
xiv. Impact—delivers sustainable, meaningful value to the organization
The role of the team leader is first to build the team and then establish and maintain a team culture that maximizes individual development while enabling organizational growth.
When building the team, the leader should: