The power of influence

Supply chain leaders have the ability to shape strategy, but must use it wisely

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Last week I received an award for being one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley in 2024.  It was quite an honor to be one of the recipients and it got me thinking about the power of influence and how we use influence in our daily work life.

Influence is all about moving someone to think or move in a new direction, or having an effect on someone’s behavior.  We use the power of influence all the time with our families, friends, or work colleagues. Whether this influence is intentional or not, it often changes the behavior of others.

Rosemary Coates poses with her Women of Influence award.

For example, consider the pandemic. Early in 2020, we were made aware of the dangerous Covid-19 virus. Leaders in our companies, and sometimes our family and friends, took the initiative to encourage the wearing of masks and practicing social distancing, even though some people didn’t take the virus seriously at the beginning. Influencing behaviors by company leaders probably saved lives. 

We also influence the behavior of others in public and in private; small things like picking up trash and returning shopping carts to the corral will influence onlookers to mimic our behavior. In global supply chain management, the way we treat our suppliers and service providers influences those around us to treat them in a like manner—or to actively choose a different approach.

Internet influencers have plenty of power over consumer behavior.  They make money by demonstrating products online or endorsing a product or service. Just consider for a moment the power of Taylor Swift. She can influence the way people dress, act, and vote.

Supply chain influencers are responsible for shifting direction in our strategy. Over the past 25 years, influencers have introduced analytics into supply chains to make better decisions. Old school workers were used to just making sure every box was shipped off the dock by the end of the day. I was one of those shipping supervisors for more than 10 years. I went home at the end of the day knowing that my job was done. Now workers up and down the supply chain use analytic tools and other online information to track the on-time performance of deliveries. Online tracing and tracking, and AI tools have introduced a new world of communications, enhanced decision-making, and planning. Early AI enthusiasts and adopters of supply chain technologies influenced our consideration of ways to leverage new data and electronic tools to improve operations. Consider the impact of these influencers.

We have enormous individual power to influence others. We must use it wisely.

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Supply chain influencers are responsible for shifting direction in strategy. Over the past 25 years, influencers have introduced analytics into supply chains to make better decisions for instance.  But, we must use this power wisely.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Supply chain influencers are responsible for shifting direction in strategy. Over the past 25 years, influencers have introduced analytics into supply chains to make better decisions for instance. But, we must use this power wisely.

About the Author

Rosemary Coates, Executive Director
Rosemary Coates's Bio Photo

Ms. Coates is the Executive Director of the Reshoring Institute and the President of Blue Silk Consulting, a Global Supply Chain consulting firm. She is a best-selling author of five supply chain management books including: 42 Rules for Sourcing and Manufacturing in China and Legal Blacksmith - How to Avoid and Defend Supply Chain Disputes. Ms. Coates lives in Silicon Valley and has worked with over 80 clients worldwide. She is also an Expert Witness for legal cases involving global supply chain matters. She is passionate about Reshoring.

View Rosemary's author profile.

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