Category Management:  It’s still the Repeating Mantra of STRATEGIC COMPETENCIES


Yes, yes I know you’ve heard us say this many a time before but it bears repeating because a number of us are still not convinced.  And the experts are still focusing on it so I thought it deserves a repeat appearance.  None other than LinkedIn, one of the premier communities for job searches and filling them recently put out a report with this blaring headline:  LinkedIn 2023 Most In-Demand Skills: Learn the skills companies need mostSo, if you’re putting together your resume, wanting to pick up some critical competencies or most importantly designing a competency development program for your Sourcing/Supply Chain organization, then you might as well focus on those competencies that are most in demand?  And btw, if you’re an alumnus of our curriculum, a client, a reader of this blog or an attendee at any of our speaking engagements over the last 20+ years, you have heard us repeat this every single time – Strategic Competencies are more critical for your organization’s success than learning how to put together better RFPs.

“Topping the list is management, indicating that companies are looking for talent to step up and manage teams no matter their environment.”  It is a bit frustrating to continue to have to repeat this one with our prospects and clients but we will continue to because not having this competency is the biggest deficit organizations face and don’t realize it.  These uncertain times AND the fact that we will continue to operate in a hybrid work environment means that the relationships that are formed when seeing each other every day are no longer existing and therefore managing teams gains even more importance (Yes – we just covered this topic a couple of weeks ago).  The report goes on to add” It turns out that remote and hybrid work makes the need for human connection and communication skills more important than ever”.  So, here’s the complete list:

  1. Management 
  2. Communication
  3. Customer service
  4. Leadership
  5. Sales
  6. Project management
  7. Research
  8. Analytical skills
  9. Marketing
  10. Teamwork

Now we can argue about whether this is in the right order but the more important point is that Strategic Competencies (soft skills) are much more dominant than most people think.  “Lacking soft skills can be a deal-breaker for recruiters and hiring managers” is probably the most important point raised by this report.

The question for you to think about are these.  First, how does your resume look against this list?  Can you confidently say that your resume will make it very obvious that you possess these competencies?  Next, how does your team and organization measure up against this list?  Do you have the people that are clearly using and demonstrating these Strategic Competencies.  Do they believe that these are important for their career growth and advancement and are therefore constantly pursuing them?  Do they know that you as the leader place significant importance on them?  Now take a look at your competency development strategy and investment decisions.  Do they reflect the appropriate focus and balance between Strategic and functional competencies?  Take a close look at your 2023 training budget and where it’s being allocated.  Is your HR organization helping you navigate this minefield an providing the right support?

Don’t let another year go by and leave you in the same position as you were in.  Ask yourself the tough questions and make a midcourse correction.  Let 2023 be the year that you finally made sure that the right balance has been achieved for your organization and your self.  And by the way, we have an exhaustive array of tools and techniques that can help you evaluate where you are and make that correction happen.  Or, you could wait till 2024 and be in the same position as you are today.  The choice is yours.


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