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Reverse Logistics Body of Knowledge: Leadership and Organizational Management

By Dr. Robert L. Gordon | 05/05/2014 | 5:14 AM

Guest Post By Dr. Robert Gordon, faculty member at American Public University

I am conducting research at American Public University to create a Reverse Logistics Body of Knowledge (RLBOK), with the goal of defining the official standard of operational practices and theoretical concepts for the field. In this article, I explore one of the eight recognized domains of reverse logistics applications and theory:  Leadership and Organizational Management.

Effective leadership is essential in reverse logistics management and an organization cannot harness the true potential of the human resources available without effective leadership. Given that leadership research has shown that transformational leadership is effective during times of change, reverse logistics management focuses on transformational leadership as a best practice.

Transformational leaders change followers into leaders. Transformational leadership is a set of skills and behaviors that are capable of being learned and managed. A study by Warren Bennis (1984) identified 90 transformational leaders and found evidence to support the following elements of leadership: competence to manage attention and meaning, the communication of organizational vision, and the empowerment of those working toward a collective goal. (Bass, B. (Ed.). (1990). Bass & Stogdill's handbook of leadership (third ed.). New York: The Free Press)

Transformational leadership is a process that is systematic, yet the transformational leader must remain true to his or her own values in order to ground and connect the team to one another. Maintaining key values is essential to transformational leadership. Once the values are understood by all and then modeled by the transformational leader, the values will operate as the core beliefs of the group—in order to guide them through the changes that lie ahead.

A transformational leader must be versed in the scope and deliverables of a reverse logistics department and also must be versed in the needs of the customer. In addition, he or she must understand the goals and objectives of the reverse logistics organization. To this end, the transformational leader must understand some of the hidden dynamics of organizational decision making processes in order to achieve the goals of the organization. Organizational dynamics are human systems and are rarely simplistic, so a good transformational leader must be able to adapt and apply these toward the goal of the reverse logistics function and that of the organization.

A good transformational leader should have a long-term plan in order to keep everyone on track, and he or she should align this plan with the ultimate goals of the company. The goal of the reverse logistics manager is to keep everyone moving toward the common goal. In addition, the leader must have the capacity to get people back on track if they stray from the plan.

A transformational leader is someone who can change direction as needed and can create a new plan in order to achieve the same goal. They must be willing to reinvent themselves, their department, and their organizational objectives in order to meet the needs of the customer and the company.

In closing, a transformational leader must be able to adapt to a world of rapid change, while remaining true to core values. A transformational leader understands that the plan may change—sometimes quickly—but the organizational values and the needs of the customer must remain at the forefront of the plan. Leaders that remain true to their core values will be able to offer a banner of stability that will help others cope with the change which all organizations must undergo. Thus, a transformational leader is one that can operate with a flag of immutable core values while navigating a sea of change.

About the Author

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is currently an associate professor with American Public University System in the Reverse Logistics Management program. He has four published books, three regarding project management and one regarding reverse logistics in addition to dozens of articles. Dr. Gordon curates a Reverse Logistics topic at http://www.scoop.it/t/reverse-logistics-by-robert-gordon2.



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About Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is program director of the Reverse Logistics department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over twenty-five years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. He holds a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA. Dr. Gordon has spent more than 14 years teaching reverse logistics, transportation, project management, and human resources. He has published articles on reverse logistics; supply chain management; project management; human resources; education, and complexity. He has also published four books on Reverse Logistics Management; Complexity and Project Management; Virtual Project Management Organizations, and Successful Program Management..

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