10 Mission-Critical Leadership Competencies in the Logistics World

Expectations for the leadership of logistics companies to deliver results are as high as ever. Factor in that those expectations correlate to aggressive time frames, and you see high demands placed on executives tasked with leading their respective logistics enterprise.

The CEO and executive team may be charged with executing a strategy that entails organic growth as well as complementary acquisitions, extracting synergies from integration, driving top line revenue and achieving operational improvements that go straight to the bottom line. Each executive team is faced with specific challenges to their company, specific markets and geographies. There are validated trends that show us what best-in-class success profiles look like for leadership in the global logistics industry.
Taken from global data at the Korn/Ferry Institute, we analyzed the information to determine the Top 10 Mission Critical Leadership Competencies that logistics organizations require from their executives to be successful.

The following are the Top 10 competencies sought after:

1. Making Complex Decisions
The executive has the ability to solve even the toughest and most complex of problems. Complexity in the logistics world has increased significantly through globalization and new technology advances. A key strength is to glean meaning from whatever data is available and be a quick study of the new and different. The executive adds personal wisdom and experience to come to the best conclusion and solution and uses multiple problem-solving tools and techniques.

2. Understanding the Business
Knowledge of the business and the mission-critical technical and functional skills needed to do the job is given a high priority. A good grasp and understanding of the various types of business propositions is essential along with understanding how businesses operate in general. This leader demonstrates how to learn new methods and technologies easily.

3. Inspiring Others
A key competency is demonstrating the skill of getting individuals, teams and an entire organization to perform at a higher level and embrace change. This executive negotiates skillfully to achieve a fair outcome or promote a common cause. They can communicate a clear and compelling vision and are committed to what needs to be done through their own actions. They have the ability to truly inspire others and remain focused on building motivated, high-performing teams.

4. Focusing on Action and Outcomes
The executive attacks everything with drive and energy with an eye on the bottom line. A leader who isn’t afraid to initiate action before all the facts are known and drives to finish everything he or she starts.

5. Creating the New and Different
The role of technology in the industry is becoming increasingly critical for businesses to leverage their service offerings. The executive is a new-wave thinker who is able to come up with the next great breakthrough. He or she typically demonstrates a creative, visionary approach and can manage innovation. This is an effective strategist full of ideas and possibilities who sees multiple futures. The leader also has broad interests and knowledge, can create and bring exciting ideas to market and tends to be comfortable speculating about alternative scenarios without all of the data.

6. Keeping on Point
A core competency is for an executive to quickly separate the mission-critical from the nice-to-dos and the trivial issues. Someone who quickly senses how to prioritize and stays focused on the critical few tasks that add value and puts aside or delays the rest. The leader also must be financially savvy with a good grasp of the numbers and key performance indicators.

7. Getting Work Done Through Others
The manager leads and directs people effortlessly. He or she has the presence to get the most and best out of the team. Effective leaders are strong at setting and communicating goals and measuring accomplishments against those objectives. They hold people accountable, provide constructive feedback and delegate and develop the team. Overall, the leader provides coaching for today and for the future.

8. Evaluating and Deploying People Accurately
The executive reads people accurately. He or she can provide a balanced assessment of individuals and teams by diagnosing strengths, weaknesses and potential. The effective leader has a clear understanding and knowledge of the skills required to fill a job or role, and is relentless when it comes to hiring the very best talent.

9. Managing Diverse Relationships
The executive can demonstrate their ability to relate well to a variety of styles, types and cultures. He or she can build effective, diverse networks and is quick to find common ground for various stakeholders and treat differences within these groups fairly and equitably.

10. Acting with Honor and Character
This is a noble leader. They offer consistency and act in line with a clear and visible set of values and beliefs. They are known for following through. They are direct and truthful, but at the same time, can keep confidences and operate with a high level of integrity.

Neil Collins is a senior client partner and global sector leader for logistics and transportation services with Korn/Ferry International. Contact him at neil.collins@kornferry.com.
 

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