Of course, it all started with the pandemic. That was the elephant in the room for over a year. That was where all the fingers were pointed when something went wrong.
But then, several quiet-yet-serious concerns began to spiral out from the earth-shaking health crisis. Supply chain issues, inflation, persistent labor shortages, potential railroad strikes, and even war exacerbated an already fragile global economy.
Toward the end of 2022, things have begun to settle down a bit in some sectors. The question is: Should good leaders in these areas see this as a chance to run a victory lap or catch their breath and prepare for the next challenge?
There’s no end to the cycle of ups and downs in business. Global, national, and regional markets alike go through swings of feast and famine. And yet, there’s little arguing that the last few years have been a particularly bad low point for businesses that rely on a global supply chain.
A recent article posted in late October by Neal Freyman of “Morning Brew” reported on some positive figures that seem to point toward potentially returning to a degree of normalcy. Freyman used the supply chain as a sign that the chaos sparked by the pandemic may, at long last, be over.
The key statistic in the report is that the number of ships waiting to unload at the Ports of LA and Long Beach has dropped from a pandemic high of 109 (with a waiting line nearly 60 miles long) to under 10. Sounds great, right? The cost to have a container shipped over the Pacific has also nose-dived from $12,000 to a historically average $2,000.
This all sounds like wonderful news. And to be sure, the lack of vessels scrambling to unload means there’s a chance to restore a pre-pandemic sense of predictability and organization to the shipping industry.
However, Freyman adds the important caveat that the reduction in wait time at the western ports isn’t just due to catching up on pandemic backlogs. It’s also because the demand for imported goods has plummeted. The last time the number of import containers entering the Port of Los Angeles was this small was during the Great Recession.
Excessive inventory for retailers points to the same problem, too. People simply aren’t buying imported products right now …which points to potential future economic issues down the road. Perhaps we’re returning to a sense of normalcy. But there’s a real possibility that we’re simply in the eye of the ongoing and evolving economic storm.
The takeaway here shouldn’t be doom and gloom. Nor should it be panic. Instead, the sudden lack of incoming waterborne supply chain traffic should be a warning sign to leaders in the industry. You may have made it this far, but don’t assume the crises are over.
You’re not out of the woods. Don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t let down your guard. Use whatever metaphor you’d like. Good leaders — both in the supply chain industry and any sector directly connected to it — should be using the current lull and apparent return to normalcy as a chance to gather their thoughts and think ahead.
How can they use the current calm to prepare for future storms? What steps can they take to set their companies up for success in 2023? How can they cultivate a sense of sustainable confidence within themselves that can influence their enterprise’s workplace culture?
These are important questions that any leader worth their salt should have in mind as we all take a collective breath heading into the end of the year.
At Stanton Chase, we’ve seen how resilient, resourceful, and self-confident personality traits impact good leadership. Our Los Angeles team has spent years in the executive recruitment industry building the networks and know-how to find individuals with the right temperament to lead in every situation.
“At Stanton Chase, we’ve seen how resilient, resourceful, and self-confident personality traits impact good leadership.”
We understand the difference between an adequate leader and an exceptional one. The former will do what it takes to help the company survive a crisis. The latter will also go above and beyond to prepare their enterprise for what is to come. They’ll ensure that their team doesn’t just survive but thrive — no matter what business environment they’re operating in.
If you’re looking for ways to brace for whatever the future may hold, start with confident, forward-thinking leadership. Setting the tone for success in the C-suite will give your company an edge, no matter what challenges may come next.