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Home Blog Advance Your Leadership Skills for the Global Supply Chain

Advance Your Leadership Skills for the Global Supply Chain

March 15, 2024

Contributing Author: Alley Bardon

8 mins read

The field of supply chain management is continuously changing and evolving, leaving supply chain leaders (and aspiring leaders) in a position where they need to constantly adapt and develop new skills.

Whether you're looking to venture into the world of global supply chain management or are already working in this challenging field, leadership skills are crucial. With a better understanding of the changing landscape of the global supply chain and the kinds of leadership skills you need to succeed, you can work toward a more rewarding career.

Evolving Landscape of Global Supply Chain

The global supply chain has been significantly altered in recent years. Across the globe, many suppliers continue to feel residual effects from the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, global suppliers also strive to adapt to new trends and technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

So, what are some of the most pressing trends and challenges facing the global supply chain? In most cases, companies are still feeling the effects of the pandemic and striving for a sense of normality in their operations. In the interim, the use of AI in the global supply chain has become inevitable and suppliers are tasked with the challenge of incorporating this technology into their existing operations seamlessly and effectively.

Residual Effects From COVID

You'd be hard-pressed to find an industry that wasn't affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps none felt the effects more than the global supply chain. Illnesses, lockdowns, and quarantines all made it difficult (if not impossible) for supplies to get from point A to point B. This, in turn, led to the unavailability and shortage of essential goods and materials.

Today, although lockdowns and quarantines have ended, supply disruptions continue to plague the field—requiring creative thinking and strong supply chain management skills to overcome these disruptions.

AI in Supply Chain

Global supply chain leaders are discovering the need to adapt to new trends, including the use of AI. AI technology is being used for everything from finding alternative suppliers to automating negotiations and even optimizing output from existing suppliers.

As a result, supply chain leaders face the difficult task of determining when it makes sense to incorporate AI into their everyday work, while also choosing and implementing the right tools for the job.

Importance of Effective Leadership

Among all the new challenges and incoming trends affecting the global supply chain, effective supply chain leadership and management has never been more critical. This is especially evident as suppliers strive to overcome challenges and shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing and Navigating Challenges

Today's global supply chain leaders will need to possess the skills and knowledge required to address and navigate common challenges with confidence. This includes not only being able to recognize the obstacles facing the industry in 2024 and beyond—but also developing plans to overcome them and stabilize the supply chain. The most effective leaders in this industry will be those who can embrace change, adapt to emerging technologies, and optimize operations.

Key Leadership Skills for Supply Chain Professionals

What are some of the most essential leadership skills that supply chain professionals need to focus on in the coming years? Let's dive in.

Communication and Collaboration

Being able to communicate effectively and work well with others has always been an essential part of supply chain leadership. However, these skills are perhaps more important than ever before. Often, supply chain leaders are tasked with articulating challenging concepts in a way that others can understand—so having solid written and verbal communication skills are critical.

Additionally, being able to foster effective collaboration is important for keeping teams working productively and ensuring everybody is working toward a common goal.

Strategic Thinking and Decision-Making

One of the most essential leadership skills in supply chain management is the ability to think strategically and make decisions with confidence. This holds particularly true in the context of sustaining robust supplier partnerships and addressing issues within a business.

Today's best supply chain leaders are those who can think on their feet, using data and informatics to think critically and make the best decisions without second-guessing themselves or looking back.

Change Management

As we've seen in the past several years, the landscape of the global supply chain is constantly changing. Suppliers are looking for creative ways to overcome material shortages while also striving to incorporate new technologies and innovations.

With so much change on the horizon, the global supply chain needs effective leaders who are experienced in change management. This means being able to set up successful frameworks for operational changes, ensuring all involved parties are prepared and supported for optimal success.

Adapting to Environments and Challenges

Last but certainly not least, the most effective leaders in the global supply chain are those who can easily adapt to changing environments and new problems as they arise. The more agile and adaptable these leaders are, the more quickly they'll be able to think on their feet and respond to challenges as they emerge. When you consider the ever-changing nature of the industry, the ability to adapt is something leaders are tested on regularly.

Benefits of Advancing Leadership Skills

Whether you are currently working in another business-related field and looking to get into supply chain leadership or you're already in supply chain management, it's never a bad idea to brush up on and strengthen your leadership skills. In fact, there are many benefits to advancing your leadership skills to succeed in this dynamic industry.

Improved Efficiency and Effectiveness

Developing your leadership skills can help you improve efficiency and streamline operations as a supply chain manager. Using your strong communication, decision-making, and leadership skills, you'll be able to oversee operations more effectively and ensure that they are running smoothly. You may even be able to identify areas of weakness within an operation that you can improve for greater effectiveness and overall output.

Enhanced Collaboration

Today's suppliers need to have a teamwork mentality, but fostering a collaborative environment is often easier said than done. This is where solid leadership skills can make all the difference. Through interpersonal and communication skills, leaders can set the stage for more effective collaboration. When supply chain professionals are able to work together as a team, the results can be incredible.

Increased Resilience

When you focus on your leadership skills, you'll inherently be working on your resilience as well. Having a firm sense of resilience is crucial in the global supply chain industry where challenges and changes seem to be around every corner. By improving your own resilience and ability to overcome even the greatest of challenges, you can deliver on the strong leadership and management that the global supply chain needs to get back on track.

Strategies for Developing Leadership Skills

Now that you have a better understanding of the kinds of skills and qualities today's most successful supply chain leaders need, you might be wondering how to work on those skills yourself. The good news? There are plenty of practical options to consider.

Formal Education and Training Programs

For most supply chain leaders (and aspiring leaders), attending a formal supply chain leadership program—such as an advanced degree program—is the best way to build upon the foundational skills you need to succeed in this field.

If you already have an undergraduate business degree or similar degree, it may be time to explore a master's degree in business administration—ideally a program that allows you to choose a supply chain management or leadership focus. With this type of advanced degree program, you can build upon your leadership skills while earning a formal degree. Ultimately, this can help set you apart from other supply chain leaders and potentially improve your job prospects down the road.

Mentorship and Networking Opportunities

In addition to a formal supply chain leadership program, it can be helpful to explore mentorship and networking opportunities that may be available in your field. Should you know professionals who already work as supply chain leaders or managers, you might consider asking one of them to be your mentor (especially while you're completing a degree program). Having a mentor is an excellent way to get professional support and guidance to build your leadership skills and become a more confident supply chain professional.

Even if you don't go the mentorship route, putting in the effort to network with other professionals in the supply chain management field can go a long way in helping you build your own skills.

Continuous Learning

Perhaps above all else, the most effective supply chain leaders are those who embrace a mentality of continuous learning. With how dynamic the supply chain field is, you need to accept that you will simply never be done improving your leadership skills. With this mentality, you can be constantly focused on staying up to date on industry innovations and strengthening your leadership skills to be the best you can be.

Strong leaders will pave the way for continued innovation and change within the global supply chain, especially as the industry continues to face challenges post-pandemic. To develop and strengthen your supply chain management skills, pursuing a master’s in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in project management might be a viable path for you.

At Lindenwood Online, we offer a comprehensive MBA program with a variety of concentrations, ranging from international business to supply chain management. Our supply chain management concentration is a great way to prepare for successful roles in global supply chain leadership, logistics, and more. Plus , this program is offered entirely online, so you can work at your own pace and around your busy schedule. Additionally, our MBA program offers a leadership, management and human resource management concentrations .

Learn more about our MBA with a concentration in supply chain management by reaching out today. Ready to get started? You can also begin your online application in just a few clicks.

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