“Retailers must adopt new style of leadership as ‘perfect storm’ hits,” says NFU president, Peter Kendall. “We need a new style of leadership in this market where Mr Clarke and other retail CEOs take greater responsibility for the impacts that their buyers’ commercial decisions have back up the supply chain.”
These sorts of conversations are what will make the difference between long-term success, long-term ‘partnerships’ (I use that term advisedly) and potentially short-term survival. I’m a firm believer that the art of radical conversations (that is to say important, yet difficult conversations that make a real difference to the strategic success of an organisation) are all but dead.
I walk in to senior team after senior team, where the tough and thorny issues are left unspoken, the rituals and routines obeyed and followed through and the results collectively delivered no better than before. The radical conversations that must ensue from the issues and difficulties that Peter Kendall is foreseeing are tough. The conversation should be focussed on ‘How can we work together to ensure that our customers get great products and at the right price now and out into the future?’.
This is a conversation that’s focused on win/win, not win/lose; and for the CEOs and leaders of the big retailers, I agree with Kendall – it will require a different style of leadership. Leadership for the longer-term; leadership with a focus on long-term stability; leadership that puts the industry first and market share second.
This a tough ask in the face of demanding analysts and city observers, but what goes up will come down. And while the retailers can demand as hard as they want, ultimately, somewhere along the line, unless a partnership approach is taken, supply will begin to falter. Leadership for sustainable results rather than purely leadership for results is the subtle, yet demanding challenge.
Richard Ferguson is director of Sensei UKE
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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