Transformation Leadership Skill 2 - Influence Not Authority

By Paul Bohr, Chief Transformation Architect


All supply chain transformation leaders will be challenged with a basic fact. No one executive has the direct authority to align the end-to-end supply chain. There is no single position with such authority that   exists across the external business entities of customers and suppliers, or internal business unit and functional organizations. Each major business entity and organization has its own priorities, perspectives, and plans that must be sufficiently aligned to achieve the desired outcomes of a single supply chain.

A successful transformation leader must work through influence not authority. 

Most leaders have advanced in their careers rising through the ranks of a functional organization where they have a position of power and direct authority. They lead the organization by setting objectives, making decisions presented to them on a daily basis, and disciplining and incentivizing the employees in their organization to follow the policies, business rules, and priorities of organization. Leaders of these organizations are typically asked to adopt stretch goals for performance improvement of 3-5%. 


The transformation leader is typically expected to engage internal and external organizations and deliver significant improvements of 15-50%. Succeeding in this type of leadership requires a very different skill set of the Collaborative Leader. 

The Collaborative Leader must be very good at influencing other executives, teams, and organizations. They enable others by removing barriers to improvement, providing the events and improvement methods to support rapid and significant change, focus on building sustained capabilities within the organizations. In the end, they will be held accountable for delivering results and building relationships across the end-to-end supply chain. 

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