Supply Chain Leadership
When it comes to expertise in logistics and overall leadership in management of very complex projects and organizations, few people are better qualified than William “Gus” Pagonis, retired three-star U.S. Army Lieutenant General. Last week, we spoke with General Pagonis, the keynote at this year’s NextLevel event, about the growing importance of logistics in the business world. This week, we discuss leadership, a key theme of his upcoming NextLevel keynote.
Your belief is that great leaders are developed over time through training and experience. Can you tell us what you mean by that?
To lead successfully, a person must demonstrate two active, essential, interrelated traits: expertise and empathy. In my experience, both of these traits can be deliberately and systematically cultivated. This personal development is the first important building block of leadership.
The leadership equation has another vital piece as well. Leaders are not only shaped by the environment; they also take active roles in remaking that environment in productive ways. In other words, true leaders create organizations that support the exercise and cultivation of leadership. This can only be achieved through rigorous and systematic organizational development.
The work of leadership, therefore, is both personal and organizational. The bad news is that this means hard work, lots of it. The good news is that leaders are made, not born. I’m convinced that anyone who wants to work hard enough and develop these traits can lead.
You cite “presence” as an essential attribute for a great leader.
No military commander would downplay the importance of personal presence in leadership. It’s a vital attribute, particularly in a combat setting. Almost every combat-hardened officer can recall that fateful moment of truth when his or her command presence was first put to the test. This is the moment where the trust you’ve earned and the confidence that others have in you and you have in yourself come together to give you a leadership “presence.”
This same lesson also applies to the corporate world. We are misled by popular culture portrayals of leaders. Movies and television deal in sound bites, and they emphasize charisma as a mysterious and seductive quality. But when they do so, they overlook the real roots of leadership and that moment when trust and confidence coalesce into something truly great.
Why is leadership important in supply chain and logistics?
While leadership capabilities are important in all business disciplines, the unique challenges in the logistics and supply chain arena make them a critical part of achieving results. Logistics and supply chain leaders must have a strong vision, be creative and innovative, and be willing to change the way the game is played.
As a leader, you must understand the surroundings and you must win the hearts and minds of your team to be successful. A great leader is able to bring the best out of each person whether on the warehouse floor or in the executive wing.
What else would you like to share with our audience?
Remember that successful leadership is not mysterious. Leaders must set their own agendas and use the tools and techniques best suited to help them achieve their goals. But leadership is not formulaic. Sometimes leaders must learn to trust their instincts and play their hunches, even in the corporate world.
Thank you so much, Gus. We are looking forward to your keynote next week at NextLevel!