Supply chain risks, threats, and obstacles abound. Whether 2022 will resemble 2021 remains an open question. After 2021, the hope was that things could not get worse, and that markets had turned the corner. With January behind us, it appears supply chains still face many obstacles.
Supply chains operations are not yet out of the woods. Some issues confronting business and their supply chains today include:
- Omicron, the latest Covid-19 variant, threatens to prolong a return to normal
- Inflation, energy shocks, and rising prices affect consumers and lower profit margins
- Rampant, growing, and unchecked theft hinders operations and drives up costs
- Continuing capacity shortages delay timely and cost-effective deliveries
- Persistent and pernicious cybersecurity threats hamper continuity of operations
This list of challenges/crises is not complete. The point is not the quantity but the size and severity of the issues leaders must grapple with today. These challenges demand leadership that is versatile.
Today, as a leader, you must do more than manage daily operations. Your goal is to maximize profit and minimize risk. You can achieve that by planning and preparing for future disruptions. You should ensure your business delivers what your customers want when they want it. And don’t forget, you must do this at the right cost.
The New Normal favors a versatile leader.
So why does versatility rise to the top of all possible leadership traits?
All you have to do is look at the headline news. Supply chain issues dominate the news, and there seems to be no end in sight.
Successful leaders must withstand and outlast these impediments. They must also look at how to convert obstacles into opportunities. That means leaders, like their businesses, must be agile, resilient, and innovative.
In dissecting versatile leadership, we’ll examine the traits needed for the future.
Leadership that promotes agility. As organizations must be agile, so must their leaders. Agility in leadership calls for flexibility in planning and execution. In the daily rush, time is a critical success factor. So, leaders must have the ability to make instant decisions.
Quick decisions must not disrupt the flow of operations. Instead, they must complement all the other ongoing end-to-end supply chain operations.
One way to make complementary, non-disruptive decisions is via technology. With the ability to leverage data, leaders can make informed, data-based decisions. Data-based decision making is not only possible but also beneficial. Technology also supports quick decisions.
While necessary for smooth operations, agility is only one trait of versatile leadership.
Leveraging the whole of the organization. Adept leaders know how to leverage teams by optimizing talent at the right time. Versatile leaders know how to leverage teams by optimizing talent at the right time. Leveraging the whole of your organization allows you to tap into the power provided by the sum of the parts. It enables you to extract the talent of each employee to resolve a situation. And you must do so with alacrity, without disrupting operations.
That entails several things. First, it presumes the delegation of authority, so employees can make decisions at the level where issues may be best resolved. When making decision at the lowest level, you can save time and resolve or prevent a problem. Employees must feel secure in making independent decisions.
The next element of versatile leadership is cultivating a culture of risk-taking. Versatile leaders become successful not by hoarding decision making unto themselves. Rather, they multiply their effectiveness by empowering and encouraging employees to take risks. Leaders and employees should view failure to find an appropriate solution or remedy.
You can train employees to see mistake as opportunities with proper training. Another element of versatile leadership is cross-training. to maximize the ability to weight employees to critical issues of the day as necessary.
Leadership that promotes resilience. Organizations adaptive and responsive to disruptive changes and surprises, and unexpected upheavals. As a leader, you must do more than manage daily operations. You must also consider what can hinder or upend your operations. So, consider not only how your business runs, but also what can impede your operations.
Here are three ways to help build resilience in your organization.
- Underscore long-term planning, especially continuity of operations planning (COOP).
- Promote a problem-solving mindset that prepares your employees for the expected and unexpected.
- Provide ongoing job-related training opportunities to build skills, competency, and confidence.
Building resilience must be intentional and ongoing. It considers the underbelly of your business. It alerts you to threats and obstacles that might not be “top of mind” but should be. If you embrace this type of holistic thinking, you will have more complete plans. More complete plans will equip you to handle uncertainty and volatility better. That will give you a competitive edge.
Leadership that promotes innovation
Holistic planning can arm your business against uncertainty and volatility. As a versatile leader, you must also be innovation-minded. You should build a learning organization.
Your business should learn from its past mistakes and successes. Equally important is to identify what contributed to a successful outcome. Then you can standardize and replicate those actions and activities in the future.
Here are three key traits you can instill in your organization to help to boost innovation.
- Create an open culture that encourages risk-taking to uncover hidden opportunities.
- Develop a collaborative environment, both internal and external. That promotes the flow of information vertically and horizontally. And that would support a single version of the facts, enabling accurate decisions.
- Foster systems thinking to achieve a holistic view of business operations. That cultivates an understanding of the linkages and interactions of the supply chain.
These traits also position your business to be proactive. They help you stay a step ahead of your customers and your competition.
Versatile leaders embrace agility, resilience, and innovation
To lead in the future, you must be agile, resilient, and innovative. You must adopt and project these traits to manage in today’s uncertain marketplace. In adopting these traits, you can build a formidable organization. It would be able to withstand any threats and uncover unseen opportunities.
Being a versatile leader means taking a holistic look at your enterprise. It also entails understanding the ecosystem in which you operate. That will ensure you consider disruptions from a big picture perspective.
It will allow you to engage the entire organization’s assets to resolve a situation. That will enable you to do so in the least amount of time at the lowest cost. And that will take raise your competitive advantage to a new level.
Your Next Steps…
One month into 2022 has shown us this year promises to be challenging. That’s especially true for supply chains. That’s where American Global Logistics comes in.
We’re a 3PL that appreciates the value of versatile leadership. That’s because we practice versatile leadership ourselves.
You don’t have to face today’s extreme challenges on your own. Why not leverage a versatile 3PL leader like American Global Logistics?
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you increase your competitive edge.