Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The "Softer Side"...

Fitting on my first day back my thoughts went to leadership and the "softer side" of logistics.  An article written in December from Kate Vitasek talked about this issue directly.  As logistics leaders we are very good at measuring the performance of our networks but how are we at measuring the performance of our people in terms of leadership and engagement?  Do we believe these are important qualities?

What I am finding is the "technical" side of logistics and overall supply chain can be trained or, in most cases, the young and very good talent are coming to companies with the technical skills needed.  What the universities cannot train is the leadership aspect.  The more responsibility you have means you generally are going to spend more time on motivating, engaging and setting up people for success rather than on the technical details.  So, how does young talent get that type of experience so they are ready when they reach the higher levels?

You must find the opportunities and they are out there.  Even if they are leading a small team, get them into that leadership position early and often.  Further, if you are lucky enough to have large groups (i.e., shifts in a distribution center) make sure they get to lead those groups.  Reinforce the importance of doing this early and often in their career.  I know most college graduates do not aspire to lead the night shift but they have to have that experience early in their career.  

Also, ensure leadership is a fundamental skill one must acquire to get to higher levels.  Leadership can be "practiced", learned and improved upon.  Just like any other skill however, you must do it over and over again to get better at it.  Make sure your younger folks are given these opportunities. 

John Bogle, founder of Vanguard Mutual funds says, "not all things that count can be counted and not all things that can be counted, count".  Leadership is one of those things which cannot be counted very easily but probably "counts" more than anything in logistics. 

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