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The Role of Leadership in Supply-Chain Excellence

What makes a great supply-chain leader? Steve DiBlasi, vice president of global sourcing with Lanier Clothes, has an answer.

The very best supply-chain software on the market will not propel an organization to success, says DiBlasi. The real key is effective leadership.

“If you don’t have leaders throughout your organization,” he says, “you’re never going to be as successful as you can be.”

Businesses are constantly looking for ways to become more competitive. Many lack the necessary quality of leadership to make it happen. Never mind that they appear to have an adequate number of individuals running various departments. “Leadership is not a matter of position,” says DiBlasi. “It’s a matter of action. We need people who are focused on results and have vision.”

Good leaders aren’t fixated on quarterly results, despite pressure in that area from investors. They need to be “looking beyond the horizon.” A leader “needs to be selfless, not self-promoting, care about the people who work for him, and have a certain level of character that motivates people. They’ll only follow if they believe in him.”

Every leader must achieve a balance between delegation and attention to detail. “You have to find out what style works best for you,” DiBlasi says, “but it’s clear that managers tend to be very task-oriented, while leaders tend to be results-oriented.” In many organizations, top leadership is determined to micromanage the process. “Your best bet is to give people a task to do, and the latitude to come up with the best way to achieve results.”

The first step toward becoming an effective leader is to focus inward – “learn from the people around you, to see where your value system lies. A leader spends a career preparing for opportunity.”

Strong, charismatic leaders can create a vacuum when they leave a company. To avoid that possibility, they should work with the people underneath them to make sure others are capable of taking over upon their departure.

“If you’ve prepared properly, then everyone in the organization should be able to assume that responsibility,” DiBlasi said. “A good leader nurtures other leaders.”

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