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Leadership for Next Generation Supply Chains

By Professor Richard Wilding OBE

Supply Chain Leadership - Next Generation

Leadership is all about people aiming to create direction, alignment and commitment within a team. Being an effective supply chain leader is becoming increasingly challenging because a company’s supply chain has to operate in two ways simultaneously to be effective.

Mode 1

  • Focus on predictability and how you manage this

  • Being lean

  • Efficiency and cost reduction

  • Focusing on risk mitigation and prevention

Mode 2

  • Focus on exploration

  • Being agile

  • Focus on speed

  • Strategies for solving the unexpected or adapting to new technologies.

Organisations need to learn to manage both modes simultaneously” but that also requires leaders to lead differently.

But what leadership styles fit the different modes? 

In broad terms there are three styles:

  1. Command and Controlworks best in a defined hierarchy but works poorly for complex organisations where innovation is important.
  2. Consensusworks best in small teams but works poorly when speed is important.
  3. Collaborative leadership - works well for diverse groups and cross company work when innovation and creativity is important.

So adapt your leadership style for the Supply Chain mode you require to give appropriate direction, alignment and commitment.



Our work in this area at Cranfield is one of the areas explored within the Supply Chain Management Programme  - one of our specialist programmes designed to develop appropriate skills for next generation professionals in these fields.

Blog produced by:  Professor Richard Wilding OBE, Professor of Supply Chain Strategy and Programme Director of the Supply Chain Management Programme, Cranfield School of Management for this blog content.


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