Supply chain leaders exist at all levels of management.

We may only see the formal leader, the one with a senior management title, but there are informal leaders at all over our profession.

Out of the spotlight, they do a job of true importance.

New research reveals supply chain leadership is much like a fractal image, zoom in or out and the patterns remain the same.

Looking at a few grains of sand under a microscope reveals the same jagged edges that are seen when looking at the entire coastline from space.

Supply chain leadership is much the same.

Scaling up or down the management ladder, from the senior executive to the lowest supply chain manager, the fundamentals of supply chain leadership appear the same.

Consider some of the core tasks of supply chain leadership:

  • applying certainty to uncertain situations affecting others, such as in forecasting or decision making
  • balancing risk and reward in careful analysis using hard and soft skills
  • aligning tactics to strategy in planning and harmony with organizational culture
  • maintaining and improving relationships of supply chain partners
  • satisfying competing priorities and stakeholders on an ongoing basis

Leaders who do these tasks well earn trust and confidence, sometimes in ways hard to measure.

A successful new supply chain professional may only practice these leadership tasks in a small area, the grain of sand view, while an effective senior manager does this across an organization, the entire coastline view. But at the core, the leadership experience is similar. And organizations need good leadership at all levels.

How can you find the hidden supply chain leaders in your company? In your office or on the factory floor are there staff members who, no matter the position, command loyalty and respect of most everyone?

Is there a “go-to” person who has wise and insightful answers in areas such as inventory management, product launches, or project management? If so, you may find an experienced informal leader whose management title does not always reflect his or her leadership ability.

This matters because future supply chain leadership may include people we do not currently recognize or notice. More closely looking at those who excel at all levels of our profession will help reveal leaders with critical skills for our future success.

Related: Women in Manufacturing Supply Chain Impact

Download the Paper: Supply Chain Leadership Report