New research from UT delivers best supply chain management leadership practices for the future

April 26, 2022

Businesses and supply chains have witnessed unparalleled – and sometimes daunting – changes through the last two decades. Yet, a handful of resourceful companies have adapted to meet the challenges of operating successfully in an increasingly volatile, yet interdependent, digital economic environment. A recently released white paper studies these firms to identify what capabilities supply chain leaders need to keep their organizations on the right track in the 2020s and beyond. 

For the paper, “Winning Supply Chain Transformational Leadership Practices,” sponsored by Daugherty Business Solutions, researchers from the Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business interviewed supply chain leaders from 16 benchmark companies across seven industries with experience in Latin America, India, China, Europe and North America to gain their insights into best practices for supply chain management in the 2020s. 

“We examine these companies through the lens of ‘transformational leadership,’ an idea conceived in the 1970s and refined over the years,” Daniel Myers, co-author of the paper and a senior fellow with Haslam, said. “Broadly, transformational leaders inspire greater performance in their employees in pursuit of specific goals aligned with a higher purpose.” 

Drawing on standards set in previous years and applying the lessons learned from the 16 leading companies, the authors further refine transformational leadership in supply chain management for the 2020s and beyond. The white paper provides a Transformational Leadership Best Practices Pyramid, which breaks downs four key leadership components:

  • Culture of excellence inspires consistent and reliable end-to-end E2E supply chain performance
  • Operational and process skills cultivate deep functional expertise
  • Relationship and communications skills facilitate E2E integration
  • Inspirational character drives bold change

These broad categories are thoroughly explained and further broken down into specific skills (e.g., recognized skills such as delegating, collaborating and influencing are joined by digital communications skills for the new, virtual age). Established, foundational leadership skills are identified for each layer of the pyramid, and the new skills needed to succeed into 2030 are also explored in detail.

In-depth essays from seasoned leaders in supply chain management correspond with each section of the pyramid, offering unique insights into different aspects of transformational leadership. One key 2030 leadership skill, high-speed decision making, is further explored in one of these essays from Daugherty Business Solutions’ Chief Strategy Officer Dave Hoyt. “In the past, supply chain organizations often worked in the background with a longer-horizon, intense cost-optimization focus,” Hoyt said. “Now, these organizations are at the forefront, requiring the ability to be extremely nimble as they respond to a complex, rapidly changing landscape.” 

Hoyt added that, in most cases, analytics and data science capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies are being used to quickly analyze alternative scenarios and recommend options for supply chain teams’ decisions.

For easy reference, an appendix offers a summary of the current and new transformational leadership best practices.

“Winning Supply Chain Transformational Leadership Practices” introduces a variety of concepts to help expand supply chain managers’ leadership portfolios. However, The most meaningful facet of the material presented may be its broad relevance.

“The leadership practices are not restricted to supply chain management – they are usable across all business functions and industries,” Mike Burnette, co-author of the paper and director of the GSCI, said. “Their universal applicability is important, because the problems of the next decade don’t just challenge supply chain management – they challenge us all.”

About the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business 

The Global Supply Chain Institute is the hub of a global network of supply chain professionals, corporate partners, students and academics. GSCI shares industry insights and best practices by producing some of the field’s most cutting-edge white papers and industry research, giving its partners access to the ideas, network and education they need to stay ahead of supply chain trends and bring their organizations to the forefront of the industry.

About Daugherty Business Solutions

For over 35 years, Daugherty has been committed to driving innovation, growth and customer satisfaction across the nation while making a positive difference in the community. With software engineering, data analytics, business advisory services, and technology and delivery leadership, Daugherty delivers significant business results quickly and effectively. Leveraging proprietary tools, techniques and virtual/regional development centers, Daugherty is a preferred strategic advisor and partner for the Fortune 500, helping customers achieve better and more predictable outcomes for mission-critical initiatives.

CONTACT: Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist,