Researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, say they’ve discovered what supply chain leaders need to do to keep their companies successful in the long run–and it all hinges on “transformational leadership.”
Researchers from the Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI) at the university’s Haslam School of Business examined 16 “benchmark” companies across seven industries to determine the capabilities required of supply chain leaders in today’s “increasingly volatile, yet interdependent, digital economic environment,” according to a press statement detailing the project. The study was sponsored by consulting firm Daugherty Business Solutions and culminates in a white paper titled “Winning Supply Chain Transformational Leadership Practices.”
“We examine these companies through the lens of 'transformational leadership,' an idea conceived in the 1970s and refined over the years,” Daniel Myers, co-author of the paper and a senior fellow with the Haslam School of Business, said in the statement. “Broadly, transformational leaders inspire greater performance in their employees in pursuit of specific goals aligned with a higher purpose.”
The paper provides a “transformational leadership best practices pyramid,” which breaks down four key leadership components:
Culture of excellence inspires consistent and reliable end-to-end (E2E) supply chain performance;
Operational and process skills cultivate deep functional expertise;
Relationship and communications skills facilitate E2E integration;
Inspirational character drives bold change.
The paper delves deeper into each issue through a series of essays that describe the specific skills for each layer of the pyramid, as well as new skills needed for success into 2030 and beyond. One of those longer term skills is high-speed decision making, which is gaining ground as supply chain takes on a larger role in companies worldwide.
“In the past, supply chain organizations often worked in the background with a longer-horizon, intense cost-optimization focus,” according to Dave Hoyt, chief strategy officer for Daugherty Business Solutions. “Now, these organizations are at the forefront, requiring the ability to be extremely nimble as they respond to a complex, rapidly changing landscape.”
Hoyt and the UT researchers added that these and other concepts in the paper have broad relevance across the business landscape.
“The leadership practices are not restricted to supply chain management–they are usable across all business functions and industries,” said Mike Burnette, co-author of the paper and director of the GSCI. “Their universal applicability is important, because the problems of the next decade don't just challenge supply chain management–they challenge us all.”