The Required Personality Traits for Successful Supply Chain Management

Like with many other careers, there are specific personality traits for supply chain management that can help you succeed in the industry. While having these traits won’t guarantee that you will land a job in a supply chain, they will certainly impress hiring managers if you are able to prove that you have them.

In this article, we will provide you with a list of the best personality traits for supply chain professionals to have, and why they are beneficial. We will also provide you with a list of characteristics that an effective supply chain manager should have.

12 Essential Personality Traits for Success in Supply Chain Management

1. Problem-solving skills

Being able to think on your feet and solve problems quickly is essential for supply chain managers and other professionals in the industry. Supply chains consist of many different components, which is why it is so easy for things to go wrong.

If there are problems in one area of a supply chain, these problems will often affect other areas and departments as well. Good supply chain managers must be able to quickly identify problems in supply chains, and then come up with solutions to solve them.

This helps ensure that the right goods end up at the right places on time. So, if you enjoy identifying and solving problems, you should consider a career as a supply chain manager.

2. Decision-making abilities

As we mentioned above, there are many links in a supply chain. This means that besides being able to solve problems, supply chain professionals also need to be good at making decisions.

Supply chain leaders need to be able to weigh up the pros and cons of each available decision, and then decide which option is the best course of action. These decisions will often relate to things like choosing the best shipping route or supplier.

Supply chain leaders will also need to make these decisions quickly, as everything in a supply chain is time-based.

3. Effective communication

Communication skills are incredibly important in a supply chain, especially for supply chain leaders. These leaders need to be able to effectively communicate in person, on the phone, via email and text, and via video chats.

The reason that communication skills are so important is that there are many important messages that need to make their way along the supply chain. These messages need to be clear and precise so that every link along the supply chain understands what needs to be done.

4. Strategic thinking

A supply chain manager needs to be able to think strategically to identify opportunities and threats in their supply chains. Problem-solving and strategic thinking overlap in a few ways, as once you have identified these opportunities and threats, you will need to create strategies to solve them and prevent them from happening again in the future.

Thinking strategically can also help a supply chain manager figure out ways to make their supply chain more efficient.

5. Adaptability

Things change in the supply chain industry all the time, as new technology is being developed on a consistent basis, and new legislation comes about often. This means that in order to stay on top, supply chain managers will need to be able to adapt to any situation that affects their supply chain.

They will also need to keep up with future trends and be able to integrate them into their supply chains to improve efficiency.

6. Attention to detail

If supply chain managers want to succeed in the industry they will need to be thorough, and accurate in everything that they do. If a supply chain manager makes just one small error when entering shipping information, they could end up sending products to the incorrect location.

Situations like these can be disastrous, which is why supply chain managers need to have excellent attention to detail. These professionals need to be able to see the supply chain as a whole, but also as a combination of different parts.

This will allow them to pick up both large and small problems that occur in a supply chain.

7. Collaborative mindset

Once again, there are many different teams and employees that work in a supply chain. Supply chain managers need to be able to work well with their employees to ensure that a supply chain runs smoothly.

You’ll need to ensure that teams in and outside of the company can help work toward business goals. This is why you’ll also need to develop soft skills like persuasion and relationship building.

8. Risk management abilities

There are many things that can go wrong in a supply chain, so an effective supply chain manager should be able to manage these risks. The first aspect of risk management is being able to predict possible internal and external risks. The second aspect relates to developing contingency plans in case these risks come to fruition.

While these skills can be developed, it is important for a supply chain manager to have an overall analytical mindset.

9. Customer focus

We have already discussed why internal communication skills are important. However, it is just as important for a supply chain manager to learn how to communicate well with customers.

Ultimately, the supply chain is driven by customers, so a supply chain manager should always be focused on the customer when they make decisions.

10. Ethical mindset

Supply chain leaders should also try to be as ethical as possible when conducting operations. While it may sometimes be cheaper and easier to disregard ethics in a supply chain, it is important for a supply chain manager to be ethical.

Disregarding ethics can leave customers unhappy, and can have a serious effect on a company’s reputation.

11. Continuous learning abilities

Supply chain professionals need to be relentless and versatile learners. This is because the technology and processes used in a supply chain change constantly.

Supply chain managers and employees need to be open to taking on courses and other training if they want a competitive advantage in the industry.

12. Multicultural awareness

Supply chain companies usually operate internationally, which means that professionals in this industry need to keep various cultural factors in mind. For example, Japanese companies often approach many situations differently than American companies.

This is why a supply chain professional should be versed in the way business is conducted in other cultures.

Characteristics of an Effective Supply Chain Manager

Strong leadership abilities

A supply chain manager should have excellent leadership abilities. They are often responsible for dealing with a large number of employees, so they also need to have great people skills.

Great supply chain leaders should strive to create future leaders in the industry and not followers. They can do this by engaging, developing, and motivating their employees.

Ability to manage teams effectively

Being able to manage teams effectively is also something supply chain managers should be able to do. This skill ties in with project management skills, as these professionals should be able to delegate the right tasks to the right employees in the right quantities.

They also need to be fair when addressing performance issues to help employees improve.

Technical knowledge of supply chain management

Perhaps the most important characteristic that a supply chain manager should have is knowledge of the industry. They should know how everything works in a supply chain, from warehouse management to logistics and transportation.

Even if a supply chain professional is a great leader, they won’t be very effective if they aren’t sure of how the industry works.

Ability to develop and execute strategies

Supply chain management is all about efficiency. A good manager should be able to create and execute strategies that can improve efficiency in a supply chain.

These strategies can range from ways to improve warehouse storage to figuring out how to reduce product defects.

Financial acumen

Supply chain managers often have to deal with figures and crunch numbers, as this is one of the only ways to figure out problem areas and improve efficiency. This is why they will need to be clued up on how the financial processes work in supply chains, and what these numbers indicate.

Analytical abilities

Supply chain managers can’t leave all the analytics to supply chain analysts. Once an analyst presents their findings to a manager, the manager will need to be able to understand and make decisions based on these analytics.

Supply chain leaders will also need to understand how to use analytics software.

Proactive approach

Once again, supply chain management is all about trying to make things as efficient as possible. This means that a supply chain manager can’t just rely on the current processes the company makes use of. They need to strive to improve things as much as possible every day.

Otherwise, the company will fall behind, and won’t be very efficient.

Innovative mindset

Good supply chain managers should be able to think outside of the box, as this can help them figure out ways to streamline processes and make improvements.

There are a number of issues that a supply chain manager could face every day, so they need to be able to think of innovative solutions to work around them.

Excellent time management skills

Everything in a supply chain is based on time, so supply chain leaders need to be able to manage their time effectively. Customers expect to receive their products on time, or else they will lose faith in a company and take their business elsewhere.

This is why it is important for a supply chain manager to assess the amount of time different processes take and figure out ways to reduce this where possible.


Ultimately, if a supply chain manager wants to succeed in the industry, they will need to be able to think outside of the box, solve problems, communicate well with others, manage their employees well, and always strive to learn more. If a supply chain manager has these qualities and uses them effectively, they will surely succeed in the industry.

Overall, proper supply chain management is crucial for businesses to succeed. It can help reduce costs, improve the efficiency of your business, and keep your customers happy.


What are the characteristics of an effective supply chain?

The characteristics of an effective supply chain include consistency, timeliness, optimization, visibility, and providing the lowest possible costs.

How can I improve my supply chain management skills?

You can improve your supply chain management skills by taking on extra supply chain certificate courses. Many of these courses will provide you with the extra skills you need to go further in the industry.

What are some common challenges faced in supply chain management?

Some of the main challenges that are faced in the supply chain industry include increasing freight prices, unexpected delays, and difficult demand forecasting.