Leadership is the process of building a consensus towards a common goal. Effective leadership provides a business with coordination, motivated employees and an advantage over competitors. Leadership is essentially about creating change; this is fundamental in logistics with trends such as e-commerce, supply chain innovation and automation shaping the industry. Successful logistics are dependent upon strong relationships between the company and its clients. For this to happen, operations need to run smoothly and effectively, this is where the correct leadership is required to guide the process.
Challenges in implementing leadership in the logistics industry:
Lack of communication: this is particularly evident in large organisations with wide spans of control. Managers can struggle to address workforce needs resulting in motivation issues stemmed from detachment between the leader and employee.
Lack of job enrichment: traditional logistical job roles were repetitive in nature and did not allow autonomy, resulting in leadership approaches leaning towards supervision and control. Motivation theorist Herzberg (1987) argued that this control and lack of delegation resulted in dissatisfaction.
Time and money constraints: a key reason why training and development tend to take a back seat in the logistics industry is that the costs are seen in the short term, whilst the benefits take time. Leadership is a long-term process, which firms must take into account when implementing changes.
Ways to improve the effectiveness of leadership:
Increased communication: distribution managers must actively listen to suggestions from employees and show interest to their working lives by asking them if they have any problems. Managers must ensure that the workforce feels valued and comfortable enough to ask questions.
Regular feedback: this can be implemented by reinforcing positive performance. Constructive criticism can provide a source of motivation which will aid positive attitudes. A great way to encourage the workforce is through healthy competition.
Performance management: employees can assess peers as well as provide their own targets. This is an effective way to promote critical thinking through increased autonomy.
Mark Steele, Director of Corporate Development, Laird Plastics states that “to be successful, we need to continue cultivating this internal talent pool into a team of leaders”. Enabling employees to enact this themselves may also promote leadership skills in the workplace at a lower level.
One of the biggest mistakes a firm can make is focusing on just one leadership approach. Each individual will have different working preferences; therefore, just one style will not fit all. Leadership is situational. This is why it is crucial to know your employees well and to understand what environments they work most effectively under. Examples include:
Transformational leadership: a leader works with subordinates to identify a need for change. This may work well after the firm faces a significant shortfall or must meet a new objective. Minster Logistics are able to retain a long-serving team through driving innovativeness whilst upholding core values.
Coaching leadership: this involves teaching and monitoring followers to enhance their skills. This may work well when individual performance needs improvement and new workers need encouragement.
Leadership style is not purely fixed:
Gromm (2002) argued that the future of leadership would see a shift in power. The traditional leader and follower dynamic would alter and leadership would become a collective act, with both managers and employees leading. This is what will provide a competitive advantage and energise the business environment.
Minster Logistics as leaders:
Minster Logistics are able to retain a long-serving team through driving innovativeness whilst upholding core values.
If you’re interested in learning what benefits Minster Logistics can provide your business with, get in contact today.