Recently I had an opportunity to watch an energetic class of five-year-olds line up to go to the gym to play. Everyone had the same desire—to be the line leader. After some pushing, prodding, yelling and crying, the line leader was selected, and they set off on their trek. Not one of them realized it was the teacher who really gave them permission to lead, to start and to stop.
In retrospect, most of us haven't changed much with age. We're all still fighting to be the one who sets the pace. Yet, if we were to step out of our line and really look at the situation, we would understand that we didn't truly set the pace—or choose the destination.
Leadership, especially good leadership, is often unseen. Good leaders give people an opportunity to do what they need to do and motivate them to act in ways that benefit everybody. Just like that teacher, he or she is empowering, but not overpowering.
Supply chain leadership is not so very different. Normally, we think of leaders in the supply chain as those companies that wield the most power. In the past, we referred to these organizations as "channel captains."Their bark was the command that rippled across the supply chain as others did their bidding. Yet, power is not the same as leadership.
Leadership in the supply chain has more to do with the ability to recognize the strategic implications of working with other companies to manage the flow of products, services and information from source to customer. Supply chain leaders are influencers. They understand the benefits of cooperation and work to achieve it. They understand how true management of their supply chain will benefit not only themselves, but everyone else within that chain.
So what does it take to influence a supply chain? Here are a few things to consider.
Want to be a leader in your supply chain? Educate yourself about the processes that are critical to your industry. Understand the value. Sell the value. Use your influence to help others succeed.