Supply Chain Leaders

According to a recent psychological study in Australia, supply chain leaders are a ruthless, calculating lot, drawn to their chosen careers because the supply chain is action-packed and opaque in nature.

This commercial environment apparently appeals to the nature of those with psychopathic tendencies; traits which appear in the supply chain management profession at about the same level as in the prison inmate population.


An Objective View of Supply Chain Leaders?

Was I shocked when I read the details of this study? A little, I must admit. Far be it from me to challenge the (presumably) objective research performed in the field of psychology, but my experience of supply chain management professionals (which can hardly be considered “limited”) doesn’t really concur with the findings of a Queensland-based group of forensic psychology researchers.

For that reason, I felt compelled to write this post, to explore the research findings a little further, and then share what I believe are some of the benefits which supply chain leaders bring to society—achieved through leadership qualities which would seem to fly in the face of what we might expect from people with psychopathic tendencies.


Psychopathic Tendencies of Supply Chain Leaders

Let’s start by looking at the findings of the research, conducted by a forensic psychologist from Bond University in Queensland and reported publicly by The Australian Financial Review Magazine. According to the study, 21% of participating supply chain leaders showed substantial levels of psychopathic behaviour, which include:

  • Insincerity
  • A lack of empathy
  • Low levels of remorse
  • Egocentricity
  • Superficiality
  • A ruthless and calculating ability to make decisions without emotion

Presenting the study findings to a Melbourne congress of the Australian Psychological Society, the lead researcher stated that supply chain leaders are capable of a cold and clinical approach to decision-making, considering little else but the possibilities for commercial gain.

So that’s the result of objective research, but what is it about the field of logistics and supply chain management that seemingly attracts psychopathic individuals like a floodlight attracts insects? Personally, I prefer to consider the profession, and those who work within it, as an honourable and essential segment of commerce without which, the world would be a much worse place in which to live.


The Good That Supply Chain Leaders Do

If supply chain leaders really are prone to psychopathic tendencies, as the study would seem to suggest, the same might be said of anyone in a position of business leadership. For no more or less than any other business executive, supply chain leaders strive for operational efficiency, employee engagement, and effective asset utilisation. As a result of their efforts, wealth is generated and economies grow.

Supply chain leaders are people who care about the reduction of waste in their enterprises, which in turn contributes to a cleaner world; increasing sustainability and easing the burden on energy and water consumption and our planet’s natural resources in general.

It’s the supply chain leaders of this world who ensure that the members of our societies get what they need and/or want, when they ask for it. Without supply chain leaders, there would a lot fewer happy smiles of gratitude at Christmas time. Gifts would not be delivered and festivities would be much more meager affairs than they are for many.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, supply chain leaders preserve, extend, and even save lives.

While physicians may diagnose our suffering and give us access to the medication, people, and equipment that can ease it, without supply chain leaders, those assets would not be available to us. Moreover, when catastrophe strikes and access to much-needed life-saving resources is cut off, it’s the supply chain management professional who seeks to overcome logistical challenges and restore supply.


The Final Word … For Now

So what am I trying to say here? I guess I’d simply like to reassure anyone thinking about embarking on a supply chain career path, in Queensland or elsewhere, that doing so will not lead you to psychopathy, does not indicate that you already have psychopathic tendencies, and is no more likely than any other career to put you in association with those who do.

That’s an opinion I will continue to hold until a sufficiency of global research findings exists to persuade me otherwise. However as always, I’d love to hear your opinion too. Thank you.


Contact Rob O'Byrne
Best Regards,
Rob O’Byrne
Phone: +61 417 417 307


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