Characteristics of a Supply Chain Leader


In the past, a supply chain leader was a tactical position — one with specific expertise on things such as warehousing equipment, shipping routes, and fuel costs. Today, the profile of a supply chain leader is vastly different. Supply chain leaders are strategic, focusing on the overall company, not just their part of it.

With organizations spending a large amount of money on their supply chains, the need for smart, strategic supply chain leaders is crucial. Whether it’s gathering business intelligence to help make better decisions, or building relationships with suppliers and stakeholders, supply chain leaders require a new set of skills above and beyond logistical knowledge.

Thinking beyond the supply chain

Today’s supply chain leaders need to have business skills in order to drive results and accelerate revenue for their respective companies. They must view the supply chain end-to-end, not just their part in it. That requires a more strategic approach, and a more strategic mindset from the supply chain leaders. Some characteristics of a successful supply chain leader include:

  • supply chain leaderBusiness Acumen: Supply chain leaders are no longer relegated to their specific expertise; they are now a critical part of the overall business. As such, they need to understand how their entire business works, not just their part in it. Whether it’s speaking to the CEO in terms of ROI, or discussing cash flow with accounting, these professionals must see beyond the supply chain and see the business as a whole.
  • Global Mindset: A global mindset is more than just thinking geographically large; it’s thinking about the supply chain from end-to-end, instead of the part the leader controls. And as the world gets smaller and supply chains get longer, this outlook will become more and more important, regardless of the size and location of the company.
  • Leadership: Supply chain leaders are no longer hidden in the background; they hold prominent positions in companies. They must not only lead their team to create an effective and efficient supply chain, but they must also be able to collaborate with other departments and external stakeholders to drive cost savings and revenue generation.
  • Analysis: With today’s wealth of information available through technology, supply chain leaders must possess the ability to gather pertinent data, analyze it, and use it to improve performance. This may require technical savviness as well — staying abreast of current supply chain trends and possessing the ability to understand and utilize the latest technology.
  • Relationship Building: This may be one of the most important characteristics of supply chain leaders. Not only are they tasked with building vendor and supplier relationships, they must also build and maintain internal relationships with key stakeholders and influencers, fostering a collaborative approach and bringing about success along the entire supply chain.

A good company understands the importance the supply chain plays in the success of the business, and as such, hires supply chain leaders with expanded roles who view the supply chain, and the business, in a comprehensive manner.

Drop us a note if you’re interested in taking a more prominent role as a supply chain professional.