Supply Chain Leadership Transition

Actionable guidance for a successful supply chain leadership transition

Top 10 priorities for a new supply chain officer

Chief supply chain officers have a medium turnover rate relative to other C-suite roles, making supply chain leadership transitions high-risk investments. Failed supply chain leadership transitions lead to productivity losses, increased costs and decreased team trust.

Maximize the new supply chain leader’s effectiveness and job satisfaction by clarifying immediate supply chain priorities.

Download Gartner’s report on the top 10 supply chain priorities to focus the supply chain leadership transition on what matters most.

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    We had the five-year plan target, but we didn't know exactly how we were going to get there. We were able to get there at least one year quicker with Gartner.

    Chief Supply Chain Officer, Manufacturer

    3 pitfalls to supply chain leadership transition

    Supply chain leadership transitions don’t fail because of lack of talent – they instead fall into 3 avoidable traps.

    1. Demonstrating these 6 negative leadership traits: control, boastfulness, eccentricity, reluctance, detachment and mistrust.
    2. Prioritizing financial performance over team engagement early in the supply chain leadership transition. 
    3. Failing to align the change management necessary for supply chain leadership transition to the organization’s unique culture, strategy and priorities.
    57% of leaders are rated by their line managers as highly likely to derail, which translated into a 27% actual derailment.
    Bar graph displaying the contextual drivers for leadership derailment by percentage with 10.6% being unprofitable business units.

    3 recommendations for supply chain leadership transition success

    To prevent leadership derailment, a new supply chain leader should prioritize these 3 actions.

    1. During the recruitment process, gather information about the organization – e.g., financial performance, executive management, new product launch plans.
    2. Also, understand whether resolving a specific organizational crisis is key to the supply chain leadership transition.
    3. Request a mentor knowledgeable about the organization and ask for support when setting supply chain strategy.
    Bar graph displaying the contextual drivers for leadership derailment by percentage with 10.6% being unprofitable business units.

    Gartner's insights, advice, data and tools help guide a successful supply chain leadership transition

    Gartner’s future of work insights, advice, data and tools help supply chains move beyond the hype of predictions and provide CSCOs with the framework to have a successful transition.

    Supply Chain Strategy: Quick Guide

    Download the guide for a disciplined framework to collaborate with key stakeholders across functions on end-to-end supply chain strategy development.

    Future of Supply Chain: 5 Trends to Act on Now

    Discover the supply chain leader's new imperatives and get specific recommendations to reset supply chain strategy and operations.

    Build Supply Chain Influence in the Boardroom

    What does the board care about? How can the chief supply chain officer demonstrate business alignment and industry awareness? Find out in this executive report.

    Optimize Costs with a Stronger CSCO-CFO Partnership

    Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how chief supply chain officers and chief finance officers can build a stronger business relationship to optimize costs and drive growth.

    Questions about becoming a Gartner client?

    Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™

    Join the world's most important gathering of CSCOs, supply chain executives along with Gartner experts to transform and innovate your supply chain strategy.

    Client Testimonial

    Discover supply chain best practices from your peers

    During this on-demand panel discussion, you’ll hear from supply chain leaders on how they are continuing to lead during times of disruption. 

    Watch “Panel Discussion: Lead Through Times of Disruption in Supply Chain” to hear:

    • Real-life examples of how companies leveraged Gartner insights and tools to navigate disruption
    • Supply chain innovation and agility during times of disruption
    • How to address your most pressing supply chain challenges

    Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2021

    See the 17th annual ranking of the world’s superior supply chains to learn the standard for supply chain excellence.

    Supply chain leadership transition FAQs

    During their first 100 days, a new chief supply chain officer should integrate into the leadership team, building their reputation as a trusted ally. Gartner recommends these three actions to build rapport with the C-suite:

    • In addition to linking supply chain initiatives to revenue generation goals, a new chief supply chain officer should spend a lot of time with the CFO, discussing how supply chain can serve as a direct top-line growth contributor.
    • Once a new chief supply chain officer has drafted the supply chain strategy and roadmap, they should demonstrate innovation, whether by embracing other functions that are piloting innovations or by launching innovations in supply chain. Innovations may include digital technology implementation or digital talent development.
    • A new chief supply chain officer should be active in shaping organizational culture. Spending a lot of time with the head of HR or supply chain’s HR business partner will enable the new supply chain leader to understand challenges and drive change.

    New chief supply chain officers engaging with their teams should:

    • Listen to their team members to understand what has worked well and where the pain points are. 
    • Create a clear vision and direction so that team members clearly understand deliverables and expectations. 
    • Identify career paths for team members that align to their aspirations, and create opportunities for them to develop their skills. 
    • Avoid transferring stress to the team, but rather rely on a mentor or peer for support. 
    • Encourage collaboration within the team and across teams. Be willing to listen to ideas for how to solve business problems. 
    • Learn from mistakes, and demonstrate that the learning has been put into action. 

    Most supply chain leadership transitions fit into one of five scenarios (listed below). Clarifying the transition scenario helps customize the game plan for the new supply chain leader.

    • Break new ground: The new supply chain leader assumes a newly created executive position, which requires clearly defining responsibilities and objectives and understanding the stakeholder ecosystem.
    • Jump-start: The organization needs to move in a new direction quickly, so the new supply chain leader is serving initially in a change agent role. The new supply chain leader must quickly understand organizational and team contexts, and use networks and the team to socialize and drive change.
    • Follow a Train Wreck: The new supply chain leader’s predecessor was not successful. In this scenario, the new supply chain leader must establish a clear vision and strengthen relationships affected by underperformance.
    • Replace an Icon: The new supply chain leader’s predecessor was very successful in the job. In this scenario, the new supply chain leader must clarify the role and forge relationships to legitimize and advance the new agenda.
    • Keep the Train Running Smoothly: The business focus is continuity, so it’s vital that the new supply chain leader continue successful programs and operations. But, at the same time, the new supply chain leader should identify opportunities to grow and transform the business.

    Support for Supply Chain Leadership Transitions

    Gartner provides trusted insights and objective advice to help its 2,500+ supply chain leader clients navigate a succesful supply chain leadership transition.