There’s a great deal of mystery surrounding leadership and plenty of books devoted to it. I’m never really clear why since, in my experience, good leaders naturally do the following:
1. Create vision, direction and strategy
Work with the top team to create a simple vision for the future (3-5 years). Amplify that vision in terms what it will look like, then develop a simple strategy on how to get from here to there. There’s quite a lot to it but a leader will use the knowledge of the team and others to build a simple but easily understood and relevant strategy. Don’t do it alone!
2. Convert the strategy into goals.
Set your own goals and share them with the team. Then, working with and through the team, get each member to define aligned short term (1 year) and longer term (3 – 5 year) goals for his or her team. Make sure that, if achieved, those goals will help ensure strategy fulfilment. Make the goals challenging. Tell them it’s better to try for a challenging target and not quite succeed than not to try at all.
3. Monitor Performance.
With the team, set up measures and performance indicators that would demonstrate if progress towards the goals is on track. Review performance periodically with the responsible team member to discuss progress and course correct where necessary. Get the team member to feed back also to you on your management style and leadership. Encourage honesty.
4. Get to know the team personally.
Meet often and chat, not always about work but also about personal issues. Open up a little and share some elements of personal life. Hold team events away from work, maybe tie it in with an away strategy session or just to celebrate success or a special occasion. Hold functions where each team member’s spouse or partner is invited and welcomed.
5. Walk the workplace.
Regular visits to work locations, offices, factories and to meet customers are essential. Walk the floor and talk to people, listening for hints and clues about their issues and concerns. Give guidance where necessary. Tell people how the company is doing – what’s good, what’s not so good and what’s being done about it. Give high level overviews to make people feel that they’re an important part of the business.
6. Eliminate blockages.
Remember no-one wants to do a bad job. If their work is sub-standard, there’s always a reason. Find out what it is and remove the blockage. It’s often lack of information, tools or equipment or unclear priorities – so, fix it. If it’s lack of knowledge or skill, provide training. If it’s lack of funds, help them find ways to manage their budget. Where it’s a fundamental lack of competence, then move the person to a more suitable position. Try all this before you consider dismissal!
Above all, stay cheerful and bright, but be challenging and probing. But don’t tolerate deception, covering up or duplicity. Ask questions – you don’t have to know all the answers!
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Supply Chain Executive Search is what we do in Mentys and we do it well. We’re Head Hunters and I started the firm, but I don’t claim to be a professional head hunter! I’m a professional Executive, turned to headhunting.
I believe to be a good head hunter, you have to have expertise in the role you’re trying to fill. Executive search depends on being very clear on what it is you’re aiming for. You can’t deliver what you can’t define.
The way to really understand a role is by having done it or by having worked closely with it. Ideally, to have been the person that you’re hunting. Also, for good insight into the client’s needs, it’s best to have been in the shoes of the client. Then, your Supply Chain executive search becomes more focussed, quicker and less disruptive for candidates and the client.
Understanding the client’s company, needs, environment and culture are essential to get to the real essence of a supply chain executive search. Sure, the client will present a Job Specification and maybe a ManSpec, but they’re never enough. They rarely get to the real essence of the role. They rarely define clearly the person who will fit in and take it to the next level.
Also, job specs usually reflect the role as it is now or as it has been performed in the past. But things are changing. The way we measure, the way we lead, the way we integrate, the way we operate, the role of technology and the way we achieve success have all advanced rapidly over the last few years.
This is particularly true in my specialist field of Supply Chain. Supply Chain has gone way beyond a series of semi-independent functions, with each trying to satisfy the next in line. Nowadays, all the functions are increasingly integrated, operating as a synchronised, harmonious and interactive whole. The aim of the modern supply chain is excellence in customer service. Dedication to this focus results in significant efficiency and quality improvement, cost reduction and reliability enhancement.
Effective and Focussed Supply Chain Executive Search
How can you know about all that if you’re not a supply chain professional? How can you conduct focussed and effective Supply Chain Executive search if you don’t understand how Supply Chain is evolving? More importantly, how can you know what experiences and skills are needed? Also, how can you hope to represent the client in finding the person who will bring advanced learnings and practices?
Sure, I had to learn the techniques of head hunting and get help where needed. But knowing the role intimately and having extensive and relevant networks are the key ingredients in locating, engaging and assessing potential candidates.
Our Supply Chain executive search must yield candidates whom I would consider employing myself, were I in the client’s shoes. But it’s hard to say that if you don’t fully understand the role, where it’s going and what it needs. It’s hard to do that if you’ve never been in the client’s shoes!
CEO, Mentys Ltd
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