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Gain Complementary Supply Chain and Leadership Abilities With an MBA Degree

Supply chain managers manage a lot of different moving parts in their job, coordinating products in places with people across different time zones and arranging those pieces together into one smooth process. To be effective, they need to have a variety of skills and areas of expertise, including an understanding of information technology, automation, market economics and business cost factors. But to be able to tie those things together, a supply chain manager must be a strong leader.

The qualities of a good supply chain manager and a good leader are often the same. As this blog post from Reveel says, both need to be "creative thinkers, tough negotiators and effective relationship managers," making leadership skills worth learning for all supply chain managers. With the explosion of e-commerce, not only are supply chain managers in huge demand, but they have also taken on more importance and responsibility in companies than ever before.

Advanced degree programs can help prepare professionals for coordinating and maintaining a modern supply chain. In the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program from Northern Kentucky University (NKU), students have the opportunity to cater their business degrees with courses to suit their exact needs.

Students will acquire a career-relevant MBA by building on foundational and capstone courses with a series of specialized options, including courses on global supply chain management and business leadership. As a result, graduates will possess a comprehensive understanding of key supply chain components and concepts, as well as leadership techniques to foster sustainable success.

Logistics Bureau, a supply chain and logistics consulting firm that works worldwide, outlines in a 2022 blog post a trio of critical traits that every good supply chain manager should possess, called the "Three 'C's" of management: communication, collaboration and change.


On the most basic level, clear communication is critical to expressing the company's needs to both people within the company and partners outside of it. As the Logistics Bureau notes, supply chain managers need to be able to express concepts that are occasionally complex in ways that anyone can understand. With so many moving parts in the acquisition process, everyone involved should be able to do their job, regardless of whether or not they understand how a supply chain functions.

Coordinating across departments and setting clear expectations are obvious areas where the skills of being a good leader and a good supply chain manager overlap. Both need to be able to organize different groups of people for a common cause and maintain honest, fair relationships.


The modern supply chain has many moving parts and, these days, they're moving at a faster clip than ever before. As budgets and timelines tighten, a supply chain manager's ability to work with people becomes paramount. The Logistics Bureau points out that this "won't always be easy, because sometimes you'll be asking teams inside and outside of your business to collaborate and work together despite competing priorities and expectations." However, if you have built strong personal relationships and can communicate constructively, then setting up collaborations with people across aisles shouldn't be an issue.


For better or worse, change is a regular part of the business. Good leaders are able to both adapt effectively and help others adapt, alleviating stress around the process and assisting others through transitions. Resistance to change can be challenging to overcome, but good managers regularly reflect and adjust parts of their process based on what is working and what is not.

Another part of change is emotional. Quality managers can manage the human element of change as well, meaning that they have the emotional capabilities to handle the impacts of workplace changes on their employees. Managers need to not only be able to meaningfully adapt to changes in their work but also adapt to how those changes affect their employees as well.

Learn more about Northern Kentucky University's online MBA program.

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