JHC Notebook: Effective skills for supply chain leadership


August 2021


With an industry as evolutionary as healthcare supply chain, it’s critical for leadership to develop and utilize skills to effectively lead teams and return value to the organization. Because the healthcare supply chain is in a constant state of change, leaders must be able to adapt quickly to any emerging challenge.

The Journal of Healthcare Contracting recently spoke with Nathan Overton, HealthTrust Director of Corporate Contracting for HCA Healthcare, about supply chain leadership and the changes that the industry has faced in the last year.

Nathan Overton

Never lose the willingness to learn

Healthcare supply chain leaders are constantly having to stay up to date on the latest trends, technologies, tools and tactics to drive performance improvement for their organization. A willingness to learn and adapt to change are table stakes for a successful career in any industry, especially supply chain and logistics. Overton said, “For more than 12 years, I have refined and sharpened effective negotiation techniques. If I start managing a new category of products, I invest time into learning about the product so that I can have informed conversations with suppliers.”

Leave the ego at the door

No matter how long you have been in a job, you will always benefit from taking ego out of the equation. “Never let your role in the organization make you think you are the smartest person in the room,” Overton said. “Any hint of arrogance can be bad for you personally and in your career. It will tarnish your relationship with your team and your external customers.” Confidence is an invaluable tool for supply chain leaders but it’s important not to equate confidence with self-importance. When you check your ego at the door, you will be better equipped to focus on the big picture and drive value for your organization.

Find novel solutions to new problems

Supply chain management demands resiliency and flexibility. Leaders should be equipped with tools, resources and a network of colleagues to bring solutions to complicated problems. The worst thing you can do for your organization is become stagnant with your approach to solving problems. Solutions require creativity and thinking outside the box. “If you get comfortable and complacent, you may not push novel agendas or attempt to employ new and innovative methods. Just because something has worked in the past; it doesn’t mean there isn’t a better, higher value approach to consider,” Overton said.

Read more about Nathan Overton in the JHC August issue