retaining supply chain talent
Retaining Supply Chain Talent
April 8, 2022
Essential leadership qualities of a VP of distribution

Essential Leadership Qualities of a VP of Distribution

The vice president (VP) of distribution role is an important position for organizations in the logistics space. When recruiting a VP of distribution, you must find candidates who possess the skills needed to streamline the warehousing and distribution process.

The VP of distribution makes core business decisions, such as how products get shipped and delivered and where and when said products go. These individuals are also responsible for overseeing other distribution and logistics team members.

What does a VP of distribution do? Understanding the position allows you to look for the appropriate leadership characteristics and critical skills in candidates. Selecting the candidate with as many essential leadership qualities as possible will help pave the way for your organization’s ongoing success.

Distribution Leadership Characteristics

These characteristics are the qualities that help a VP candidate move up the corporate ladder. A vice president of distribution job description should contain a combination of hard and soft skills needed for someone to excel in the role.

A few common characteristics VPs of distribution should have include problem-solving skills, customer focus, analytical and data-driven mindsets and commitment to continuous growth.

1. Problem-Solving

Distribution is the process of overseeing the sale and delivery of services and products from the manufacturer to the end-user. A VP of distribution is responsible for overseeing every stage of the distribution process, from processing orders to managing inventory to organizing the shipping process. 

As there are many moving parts in distributions, there are multiple opportunities for problems to come up. A VP of distribution needs to have the ability to think on their feet and solve problems when they arise. A key component of problem-solving is being comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. The distribution team might need to pivot quickly, so the VP needs to be able to steer the ship accordingly.

2. Customer Focus

The distribution field has become competitive, driven by changing customer expectations. In the past, paying for shipping was the norm. Now, customers want free shipping, no matter how small the order. They also want fast shipping — one-day or less shipping is becoming the gold standard.

Still, while fast, free shipping is a big draw for customers, it’s not the only thing they want. A customer-focused VP of distribution will know how to adjust processes to provide the services customers need most.

A VP focused on the needs and desires of the company’s customers will know what changes to make to accommodate customer demand and expectations. A customer-focused VP of distribution will conduct customer surveys and regularly connect with clients to get a sense of what they want, expect and need from the organization.

3. Analytical, Data-Driven Mindset

Logistics is a vital part of distribution. The VP of distribution needs to be concerned with how products will make it from point A to B in the fastest, most economical way. A VP needs to analyze data and know what data needs analysis to provide the best results for the organization.

Being analytical and data-driven means a VP is constantly looking for ways to improve costs, quality and performance. It could be that switching to a drop-shipping process is best for an organization, based on the data collected. A data-driven VP will also be up-to-date on factors that affect prices and on issues that might impact delivery and logistics.

4. Continuous Growth

The distribution and logistics sector is constantly evolving, so a distribution executive must be willing and able to grow and change continually. A VP can demonstrate a commitment to continuous growth by reading about new developments in the industry and attempting to implement those changes in their organization.

A VP of distribution can demonstrate a commitment to continuous growth.

Critical Skills for Distribution Executives

Distribution executives should have critical skills that align with the organization’s goals and increase efficiency across the department. A VP of distribution should communicate effectively with their team and customers and should be able to collaborate across departments when necessary.

1. Communication

Communication is a broad skill that all VPs of distribution need to finesse and develop. Being a good communicator means more than telling people what to do and when to do it — it also means being a good listener.

A VP of distribution who excels at communication will know how to listen to their team members and take feedback and suggestions seriously. Communication also goes hand in hand with being customer-focused. VPs should pay attention to what customers say and take steps to implement that feedback into the logistics and distribution processes at their organizations.

Another essential element of good communication is clear communication. A VP needs to make sure people understand what they are being told. The ability to simplify requests and keep messages concise and to the point are hallmarks of a VP who excels at communicating.

2. Collaboration

Collaboration skills go hand in hand with and overlap with communication skills. The distribution and logistics team will likely have to work with other departments at a company and with external partners, such as shipping companies and manufacturers. A VP who’s willing to build partnerships with others and participate in back and forth with partners will do better in the role than a person who prefers to work alone.

3. Technology Knowledge

Logistics and distribution are constantly evolving, and a factor that drives that evolution is technology. A VP needs to be updated on the most widely used logistics and distribution technology. They also need to keep their fingers on the pulse of new advances and be ready and willing to update their systems as technology progresses.

Along with knowledge of technology, a successful VP of distribution will have an open mind regarding how technology can improve their systems or increase efficiency. They’ll be ready and willing to try new systems or make technological adjustments to processes that can potentially improve overall functioning.

Contact Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters to Hire Top Distribution Talent

Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters has the expertise your company needs to make the perfect match when hiring a VP of distribution and other distribution roles. Our executive recruiters have more than 100 years of combined experience in logistics and supply chain. We know just what the perfect VP of distribution candidate looks like and can help ensure that the right candidate ends up working for your organization.

Our recruiting service options include retained search or contingency recruiting. You don’t pay us until the search is finished and you’ve hired your new VP. Contact us today for more information about the recruiting service options we offer to help you find top talent quickly.

Contact us to hire top distribution talent.
Don Jacobson
Don Jacobson
Don Jacobson was born and raised in New York City, and graduated with a B.A. degree in Management from the City University of New York. For 10 years, Don managed Operations and Supply Chain departments for consumer products companies. He then turned his attention to supply chain recruiting and for the past 27 years, has specialized in recruiting and placing supply chain executives throughout North America. Don is certified by the National Association of Personnel Consultants. He was a Partner at Hunt Ltd., and more recently was the Founder and Managing Partner of LogiPros LLC, a logistics recruiting firm. Don is a regular contributor of topical human resource articles for DC Velocity magazine, the CSCMP Supply Chain Comment, and The WERCSheet, published by the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC). He is Past President of the NY/NJ/CT chapter of WERC

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