Proactive Systemic Leadership

This article is based on a coaching session with a Brand Manager who wasn’t able to get onto the front foot with a stakeholder in her logistics supply chain. The supply chain function was causing 20% of the business orders to be picked in error.

It had been happening like it for several years ! For 20% error to be happening in anything, where a customer promise and expectation is attached to it, for which good money has been taken, has to be totally unacceptable in any business context. Leadership must act and eradicate the lack of integrity ‘proactively’ and quickly. But how?

In this situation the logistics function management didn’t report into the Brand Management leader that was customer facing and taking the customer flak. The director of the logistics management was aware of the situation and had instructed his management to sort it out. However this business unit was like the Rupert Murdoch, Daily Mirror situation; this business activity only accounted for about 1% of the value and range of responsibility of the logisitcs director. He could dish out instruction until he was blue in the face. He simply had no time to spend on it and however loud he shouted, his logisitics management didn’t know how to prioritise or to fix it. If he was going to sack people because of it, it would lead to sacking everybody – his entire business logistics function was ‘reactive’. As a leader in a business that was 250 years old, the Brand Manager had to act from Principle, Process and Right First Time Leadership Practice.

The action plan became to manage the stakeholder system as follows:

  • the logistics function director – she would take on the problem with his endorsement, it was in everybody’s interest that this happens
  • the logistics function senior management – she would not expect their direct engagement in the situation, but would expect ‘endorsement’ for her team to work with the logistics manager and his team directly
  • an internal logistics consultant would be  co-opted onto the process of change
  • a conversation would take place with the logistics manager to re-establish the principles of running a sustainable business – 100% customer fulfilment, 100% employee fulfilment to highest standards, 100% assurance of sustainable profit stream. Failure to sign-up to this would result in going back up the line.
  • a set of ground rules, a Service Level Agreement and a dashboard of measures would be constructed by agreement to assure the process to 100% order fulfilment and zero errors
  • a process of team meetings between the commercial team and the logistics team would be started so that remedy would happen ‘in a process of partnership’ and ‘lean enterprise’ practices.

This outline plan would take about 6 months in total to embed in a sustainable way.

The principle here being that this leader was working to a right first time, systemic fundamental solution approach – in our world ‘just professional leadership’

To start your leaders leading proactively and in a sustainable way enrol them, (or just one to start with on an open programme) on the flagship Enrichyou 'Leaders of a Sustainable Business Programme', which on average gives a return on investment of £35,000 to the business for each delegate attending. Click here to read more about Leadership Career Path Programmes. Email: for a brochure about 'Leaders of a Sustainable Business Programme'.

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