Profound mutations in the Supply Chain have induced an important change in the profiles of their leaders. Over the last decades, they were expected to combine software knowledge with technology awareness
Today, the focus is more on soft management skills. They have to show their capability to build complex alliances, meet increasing clients’ expectations, convince their colleagues and motivate their own workforce.
Such talents can actually produce shareholder value but are quite rare and rather hard to find. Their recruitment requires more than ever a thorough professional approach.
How to actually gain a competitive advantage with the Supply Chain when innovation is not more the key issue?
The quest for Supply Chain talents has really taken off
Over the last decades, most of the companies have faced major technical Innovation.
This is particularly true in their Supply Chain organisation where leaders have seen their role dramatically changing.
During this period, most efficient Supply Chain organisations have succeeded in combining new and more efficient softwares (SAP, Transport optimisation, etc …) with important technological breakthroughs (RFID, Automated logistic system, Barcode readers, etc …) inducing many operational changes liaised to technical innovation and delivering substantial value for the shareholders.
Internet has also played a key role, accelerating the Supply Chain profound evolution.
The combination of the above elements has accelerated the transformation of Supply Chain profiles. The majority presented a profile combining software knowledge with technology awareness with a clear vision of what could these innovations bring to their future Supply Chain.
Many projects were carried out to design new Supply Chain organisations and deliver their expected savings. Now that these organisational changes liaised to technical innovation, have happened, companies are facing another issue.
How can these companies continue gaining competitive advantage with their Supply Chain?
Part of the answer probably lays in the increasingly important role played by the soft management skills. The Supply Chain leaders remain responsible for tactical issues but in addition they have to show and sell their vision across functions, communicate options to their colleagues and, last but not least, motivate their own workforce to become and remain the best in class. When achieving a mapping of all interfaces between departments, the Supply Chain usually totals up the largest number (with Sales & Marketing, Finance, QA, Production, etc…). The list is rather long and witnesses the complexity of the Supply Chain. Interpersonal skills are as critical as the necessary technical knowledge since the Supply Chain is very complex, frequently globalised and largely decentralised.
For Supply Chain executives, “Knowing how to communicate” generally bears more importance than “Knowing what to communicate.
This communication goes either way: to the Board to explain and sell their new SC strategy and to their work force to convince and increase its motivation.
Besides the soft management skills, there is probably another essential issue. The pace of technology changes has drastically accelerated and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The winning Supply Chain Executives will show their ability to perceive the efficient technology changes (from the nice to have “gadgets”) capable to provide real added value to the organisation and business they support.
Making the adequate choices is very difficult for it requires a perpetual capacity to anticipate future and determine what is going to be actually determinant and how it should be addressed.
The impact on recruited talents in Supply Chain
The professional recruiters have seen the level of expectation for Supply Chain leaders substantially increasing in the last decade.
What most companies demand are Supply Chain leaders, being strong team builders combining technical knowledge with strong human management skills, experts in complex alliances and fine negotiators.
The quest for those top Supply Chain managers has become tougher and their level of expectation having drastically risen. Well aware of their value and the competitive edge they can deliver, those key talents have become hard to get, companies having strengthened the measures to retain them.
Knowing where to find them and how to motivate their decision to move require more than ever, building and maintaining a strong network of performing Executives acting in the various disciplines of the Supply Chain.