Emotional intelligence imperative in supply chain management (II)

People with emotional intelligence collaborate easily because they recognise that the strength of individual differences is critical to making a whole.

SUPPLY chain partners are required to work together, looking towards the same finishing line

That explains why industry experts often argue that “nothing great was ever achieved without the power of emotional intelligence”. There is a serious correlation between collaboration and emotional intelligence.

People with emotional intelligence collaborate easily because they recognise that the strength of individual differences is critical to making a whole.

A couple of years back, many supply chain professionals were promoted based on technical expertise. Business leaders would bend backwards to elevate those with specialised technical knowledge. However, it is increasingly becoming clear that those technical skills that are needed to climb to the top of the ladder are often at odds with those skills that are required to excel in leadership.

Individuals with a seemingly endless supply of technical know-how and years of experience could struggle in leadership positions because they may lack emotional intelligence.

Although it must be acknowledged that technical skills still have a huge role to play in modern commerce, as we move up the ladder, it appears the technical ingenuity is beginning to take a back seat to interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.

As fate would have it, the pace of technology is moving at a frightening speed. What it, therefore, means is that technical skills can lose relevance in a very short space of time.

As we trudge into the future, it is slowly becoming very clear that the technical skillsets that used to spell success are slowly falling short. Human resources professionals will probably tell you that technical skills will assist people in landing a job. But emotional intelligence will assist those people in retaining their jobs and excelling in leadership positions.

Leadership practitioners are of the opinion that the goal of leading others effectively depends heavily on knowing yourself very well.

Beyond cognitive abilities and technical knowledge, leadership competences are elevated by the level of your emotional intelligence.

Supply chain professionals in leadership positions with a high level of emotional intelligence find it very easy to connect with their own emotions as well as relating and influencing the emotions of others.

They are very good at creating more connected, engaged and motivated teams. Leaders with high emotional intelligence will rely on the use of their social skills to foster rapport and trust with their subordinates.

But people can only do that where they are able to control their emotions and are accountable for their own actions. The common belief among industry experts is that, whenever, they are looking for leadership roles, the emphasis is not on technical skills.

The emphasis is on someone’s attitude and behaviour. In the extreme cases when the attitude is right but there is lack of technical skills, such skills can always be developed.

The need for emotional intelligence is now more important than ever because most companies are now competing using the same technologies, which makes it very difficult to differentiate product offerings in a highly competitive business environment.

It is now very difficult to separate the utility value of different products. The white spaces for expanding market share are getting smaller and smaller with companies fighting for razor thin margins.

The attention span for customers is increasingly becoming very short. Customers are also becoming unforgiving for those suppliers, who remain sloppy.

The use of emotional intelligence could easily create a competitive edge and undeniable value to organisations. It, therefore, follows that the utility value created by commodities in a competitive business environment often lie in the emotional intelligence of the professionals, who bring the products to the market.

There is a widespread recognition that companies compete not so much through what they do but through how they do it. The ‘how’ part is now more important than ever.

Emotional intelligence is slowly gaining prominence with the realisation that as people conduct their duties in whatever capacity, they will always remain human beings whether they are at work or at home.

As people go about their business, there is no way they can leave painful or joyful memories at work or at home. In some cases, business will always remain personal. Especially in supply chain where there is too much interaction with people.

Work is known to be a huge part of our adult life. As a result, our emotions will always follow us wherever we go. The thin line between work and life will continue to blur as humanity will never go out of fashion.

It is common knowledge that those suppliers, who feel emotionally supported and appreciated as they go through challenges of delivery will always feel encouraged.

The motivation towards a collaborative culture starts with the hearts and minds of the team members, who constitute the supply chain network.

Supply chain professionals must remember that the way the message is delivered to supply chain partners could easily be equally important than what is communicated.

The emotions that are unconsciously revealed can make the difference on how well the message is received by the intended recipient.

It is, therefore, a fact that human emotions are of significant importance in reaching the hearts and minds of our supply chain partners.

Emotional intelligence supports the capacity of supply chain professionals to build bridges and collaborative alliances with suppliers and service providers. It will also assist them to mend the bridges and alliances should they get damaged at some point.

Supply chain professionals may be required to develop the emotional intelligence to tell suppliers what they do not want to hear (but need to hear).

But there is also another dimension to acknowledge that as you haggle in negotiations, someone’s success does not mean failure on your part.

Procurement personnel must have the emotional intelligence to know that winning does not depend on someone loosing. Creating win-win situations is the cardinal rule for supply chain success. There is need to focus attention on possibilities rather than limitations.

As supply chain professionals conduct their negotiations with suppliers, it may be important to understand and appreciate when it is necessary to talk.

Similarly, it is important to know when it is necessary to listen. During business negotiations, it is advisable to avoid listening with a view to reply.

As procurement personnel listen with a view to reply, there is often a tendency to miss important cues because they are always thinking about what they will say next.

Procurement personnel with emotional intelligence are, therefore, advised to listen twice as much as they speak. They must listen as much or more than they talk, take criticism well and stay calm under pressure.

Emotional intelligence goes beyond empathy and listening to others. Emotional intelligence theorists have often maintained that as people conduct tough business negotiations, suppliers may forget what you said, they may forget what you did but the same suppliers may never ever forget how you made them feel.

The most important thing in business negotiations is to hear what is not being said.

Emotional intelligence could play a major role into knowing who you are and having a clear understanding of what you are required to do to become a better version of yourself.

As a supply chain professional, it is sometimes very important to see the world from the supplier’s point of view.

My closing thoughts and reflections.

When it comes to developing an efficient supply chain network that stands the test of time, developing emotional intelligence is the secret sauce.

Savvy supply chain professionals understand that suppliers contribute in different ways and oftentimes the most valuable ways may not be the ones easiest to see.

Having the emotional intelligence to understand that is table stakes. The rules of success in procurement are still being written and will continue to be written.

For now, it may be important to define your metrics and measures of success through a customer’s point of view, not yours.

But the prevailing line of thought is that to do that there is need to have emotional intelligence.

Every procurement professional must be literate in this new language.

For those that care to listen, the verdict is out — emotional intelligence is here to stay and all those who care to listen will stay told and remain told.





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