The value of leadership – the mark of a successful supply chain

Leadership, a trait that all industry professionals strive to develop, yet very few possess in its entirety. This elusive attribute is the ability to inspire, guide and support individuals to achieve success. The value created by leadership in a supply chain is evident but sometimes misunderstood by supply chain stakeholders.


A supply chain is a multifaceted function that involves many critical processes such as procurement, operations management and logistics management. Each of these departments is then broken down into smaller facilitating teams that create value within an organisation. This makes it incredibly difficult for an organisation to manage its supply chain without resilient leaders. Supply chain leaders provide the motivation, know-how and direction to the various teams and departments that drive the supply chain team to achieve organisational success.


To understand the impact of leadership on a supply chain, you can consider the following analogy. In soccer, you have a team of players, each of whom has a specific role in guiding their team to success. A goalkeeper’s role is to prevent the opposition from scoring whilst the striker’s role is to score against the opponent. Each of these team members has a different role, but ultimately the same objective – to win the match. This is where the team captain comes in; he guides the team to success by providing a strategy and inspiring the team to achieve success.


A supply chain leader fulfils the role of being the team captain, aligning each department to achieve the supply chain’s vision and realise longterm organisational success. The importance of this position has been embodied by the globalisation of supply chains, and increases in complexity in organisational structures and the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Being a good leader does not solely rely on a singular skill, but rather a compilation of various personal competencies such as creativity, effective communication, compassion towards the needs of individual team members, strong interpersonal skills and dedication towards upholding integrity. These skills lead to the realisation of the supply chain vision and ultimately drive the organisation’s

mission and vision.


A supply chain professional needs to develop their leadership style according to the supply chain’s vision, the two most common types of leadership styles being transactional and transformational. Transactional leadership is primarily task-driven and focuses on the improvement of operational and employee performance. These leaders prefer to follow routines and develop individuals through experience-driven situations.


The second type of leadership is transformational, which is relationship-focused and ideal for navigating through times of uncertainty such as the COVID-19 pandemic. These leaders are driven by charisma and inspire innovation and collaboration. They encourage personal growth and development, which ultimately benefits the supply chain and the organisation. Both of these techniques contribute to supply chain success, but an innovative leader will incorporate aspects of each and create their own strategy based on their supply chain requirements.


John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Irrespective of your leadership style or technique, one thing is evident: in this modern age of disruption and opportunity, all supply chain professionals must become the leader they need.



Contributed by: Arno Meyer, and Aveshin Reddy,

of Richfield Graduate Institute of Technology


Article originally appeared in Logistics News – visit for more local content.