Leadership comes down to relationships and having a connection with employees, says Kurt Kravchuk, director of distribution at Cabela's. Spending time each day on the floor, focusing on collaboration and maintaining a positive approach are three of his suggestions.
“I see building leadership in the supply chain area as a coaching opportunity, says Kravchuk. In this capacity he tries to develop the three characteristics of leadership taught him by his father: life-long learning, a strong work ethic and character. “I define character as how you act when no one is looking,” he says. “Develop those three pillars and you will have strong, capable leaders.”
Leaders also need to have an emotional connection with employees, he says. “You want to make sure people feel they are part of the solution,” he says. This results in employees feeling that they work for the company and not just at the company, he says.
One key to maintaining that connection is to spend time every day on the floor, he says. “Talking to multiple people in your DC every day is what maintains that positive relationship,” he says.
“We also focus on collaboration, not only within the supply chain, but with our partners outside the supply chain, whether in marketing or finance or IT,” Kravchuk says. Establishing collaborative relationships in these areas allows you to easily ask for help when you need it, he says.
A third factor is what Kravchuk calls the shadow of a leader. “If I wake up with a negative outlook on life, that will translate to my team and they will become negative,” he says. “So every morning I put on my positive face and maintain that throughout the day. It is a conscious effort to demonstrate positivity so I don’t pass on the shadow of the leader to my team, who would then pass it on to their teams.”
At Cabela’s “we look at things as opportunities rather than challenges and the relationship piece is the strong bond that enables us to retain talent within our organization,” he says.