Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

In the last article, it was identified and established that Supply Chain is the key enabler for business growth. It is time now to understand what measures within supply chain drives supply chain excellence. As shown in the below figure, five elements contribute towards supply chain excellence. It starts with People, Quality, Velocity, Cost, and finally Agility to react to the dynamic business environment.

SC Excellence 1

In this article let me share my experience about how people can effectively contribute to the success of the business.


Bill Gates once said, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” Success is not a permanent partner, success is a visitor in some cases, and hence, people may have to pursue the path of continuous improvement to sustain in this challenging environment. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”. If one critically examines the only difference between successful people and the rest is nothing but lack of will to succeed.

In order to be successful in business we need a leader who can articulate the vision and goals of the organisation and along with him we need group of people whom we can call them as cohesive team. In order to be a successful team we need few critical attributes and they are:

Engagement – It is a challenge to any organisation to create an environment where employees who are part of the cohesive team understand the organisational goals and commit to the organizational vision created by the leader. Job engagement and organisational engagement leads to employee engagement. Happy employee is a productive employee. Hence, it is a key measure.

Leadership – It is an old school of thought that there is only one leader in the organisation. Yes, there is one leader at the top and he/she needs leadership support from many functional silos. It is essential that these emerging leaders should be trained in the areas of Communication; Motivating teams; Team building; Risk taking; Vision and goal setting. Last but not least is to recognize and reward the team’s performance. Say at least thanks for their contributions.

Think outside the box – Today’s business is dynamic, volatile and challenging, and the ability to improve continuously is very critical to the success of the organisation. The core driver to make your team to think outside the box is to deliver competitive differentiation in the market place. Due to product proliferation, there is no dearth of choices to the consumers, the product has to be unique and deliver total customer experience. This process is not static and it is continuously evolving. Unless one develops ideas and transforms them into reality that meets tomorrow’s customer needs, it would be highly challenging to survive in the market. Thinking is unlimited, there is myth that humans use only around 10% of their ability to think. It is not thinking that matters, Lateral thinking is the need of the hour!

Team Work – Success of any team depends upon the team work and team’s collective strength and wisdom. The best teamwork comes from group of individuals who collectively agree to work independently and together towards one identified organisational goal in unison. Let us not forget ““The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” In short WE = Power of Success!

Change Management – “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future” John F. Kennedy. The world is changing in other words, it is evolving and if you live in the past and deliver a product belonging to yesterday for tomorrow’s world, the outcome would be disastrous. Obviously change is driven by a vision, get your vision right, build a team that could deliver your vision, empower the team, celebrate short term successes, and most importantly communicate and deliver the change message periodically. Change ushers exciting opportunity and at the same time could deliver loss, disruption or threat to some organisations. How such change process is managed can be the difference between surviving and thriving in a work or business environment. Change management should be developed as an inherent characteristic of any organisation who would like to survive and thrive in this world.

Perseverance – As mentioned earlier success is a visitor if you fail to pursue it consistently, it will desert you. In my opinion one may face many defeats in our journey in search of excellence, but you should never get defeated. The defeat teaches the critical lessons to how to succeed. Whereas success only makes you complacent. In order to manage sustainable success, it is absolutely necessary to be persuasive. Abraham Lincoln once said, “I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.”

Continuous Improvement – “Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change” Tom Peters. We can write tons of information how we can achieve continuous and sustainable improvement through the leadership vision and team work. Let us examine a case study which delivers invaluable information how continuous improvement in supply chain delivers competitive advantage in the market place.

Supply Chain Excellence2
Note: Please double click the image to see it large.

The human being is yet to invent an automated system that could foster sustainable continuous improvement in any field. It is all driven by the committed teams all around the world. Team of individuals is not a system, it is the group of people with commitment to make tomorrow a bright one and with emotions to win with persistent efforts and with a faith to turn hopeless failure into glorious success.

Any business organisation must have a clearly identified unique core objectives which differentiates the organisation with competitors. The so called differentiation comes through innovation of the people in the form of enhanced technology, improved quality, cost competitiveness, total customer experience. All these factors are articulated by a leader and implemented by the group of people whom we called an integrated and cohesive team.


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Leadership Pyramid Showing Vision Values Empowerment and Encouragement

Establish positive attitude and demonstrate your integrity to engage the team; and engagement leads to commitment and commitment results in enhanced productivity and improved productivity produces economic benefits to the Customers (Superior Quality and Cost Effective Products), Shareholders (Improved return on Investment), Employees (Career Growth and Job Certainty) and to the Organisation (Improved Brand Equity and Superior Financial Results).  Supply Chain is a team game and without cohesive and collaborative team you go nowhere.  In order to achieve all this; one should have the right attitude.  Someone appropriately commented that, “a bad attitude is like a flat Tyre, you can’t go anywhere till you change it”.

Positive attitude leads to great leadership and great supply chain results (Source: Gartner Supply Chain Top 25)

Top 25 SC Companies



















last 4 years comparison top supply chain











Believe in creating a successful future and not predicting the future!




















































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Today Supply Chain is going through re-engineering phase due to global financial turmoil, raising costs, volatile currency fluctuations, unpredictable demand, lack of qualified supply chain talent and punishing markets.  Collaboration is the top priority of the day.  Supply Chain flourishes though collaboration and collaboration is the key to supply chain success.  Leaders collaborate and the boss dictates.

In order to drive effective operational excellence within supply chain, we need leaders with vision and thought leadership skills.  Jesus Christ once said, “If the blind lead blind, both shall fall in a ditch”.  Isn’t it true from Supply Chain Perspective?  If the boss/manager is faking, the end result is ditch as mentioned by Jesus Christ.  Hence the need for the thought leader is very critical to drive the supply chain excellence.

Generally, people do not want to leave the jobs unless there are some compelling financial reasons or work culture related issues. People quit their jobs due to the heavy-handed work culture and the work culture is created by the boss/manager.  Many think that they are good bosses and sadly what they know is their perception and not the team’s feelings.  The boss generally believes in one-size-fits all theory and never develops an individual strategy to retain and grow the talent.  In today’s complex world there are too many bosses, but very few leaders around.  The leader will do whatever it takes to maximize their team members’ engagement to achieve organization’s success; while bosses just want to enjoy the privileges of their position and more interested in saving their jobs.

Are you a Boss or a Thought Leader?

Just for the benefit of everyone let me clarify what is thought leadership?  Thought leadership is a business jargon for an entity or an individual that is recognized by the team for having innovative ideas.  The term was coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine, Strategy & Business.  The Boss is a person who exercises control over other employees in a workplace environment.

Let us find out some differences between a Boss and a Leader/Thought Leader:

  1. The boss drives group members; the leader coaches them.
  2. The boss depends upon authority; the leader on good will.
  3. The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm.
  4. The boss says “I”; the leader says “we.”
  5. The boss assigns the task, the leader sets the pace.
  6. The boss says, “Get there on time“; the leader gets there ahead of time.
  7. The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown.
  8. The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how.
  9. The boss makes work drudgery; the leader makes it a game.
  10. The boss says, “Go“; the leader says, “Let’s go.”
  11. The boss reacts and the leader works proactively.
  12. The boss command with power, the leader leads with values.
  13. The boss assigns responsibility and not authority, the leaders encourage succession.
  14. The boss creates fear, the leader instils confidence.
  15. The boss knows all, a leader asks questions.
  16. The boss leads by force, a leader by example.
  17. The boss creates followers, a leaders creates more leaders.

Some interesting Quotations:

  • A good boss makes his men realize they have more ability than they think they have so that they consistently do better work than they thought they could. – Charles Erwin Wilson


  • Your real boss is the one who walks around under your hat. – Napoleon Hill


  • Leaders need to be optimists. Their vision is beyond the present. – Rudy Giuliani


  • The person who knows HOW will always have a job. The person who knows WHY will always be his boss. – Diane Ravitch


  • The real leader has no need to lead – he is content to point the way. – Henry Miller


  • A good manager is a man who isn’t worried about his own career but rather the careers of those who work for him. – H. S. M. Burns
  • One measure of leadership is the calibre of people who choose to follow you. – Dennis A. Peer
  • Leadership is action, not position. – Donald H. McGannon
  • You can’t lead anyone else further than you have gone yourself. – Gene Mauch
  • The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it. – Elaine Agather
  • You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader. – Anthony J. D’Angelo
  • Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them. – Robert Jarvik
  • A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. – John C. Maxwell
  • A leader is best when people barely know that he exists. – Witter Bynner
  • A man is only a leader when a follower stands beside him. – Mark Brouwer
  • I suppose that leadership at one time meant muscle; but today it means getting along with people. – Indira Gandhi

Global supply chains need thought leaders, if the boss transforms into a LEADER, the world is different for the team members.  More leaders grow in the organization as leadership flourishes under a LEADER and if that leadership is thought leadership, it would be a great benefit to supply chain.  Today’s supply chain needs out of the box solutions due to ever changing and challenging business dynamics.  We need thought leaders to manage supply chains more effectively and provide the critical answers to the business challenges!

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