Leadership in procurement

by
Dr. Jan Emmanuel De Neve

Dr. Jan Emmanuel De Neve

One of the key elements in a successful category management, SRM, or negotiation preparation activity is leadership. There are people that are good at crunching numbers, running meetings, collecting data etc., but those things don’t change the way an organization does business. Straight to my thoughts…

You don’t have to be Lincoln…

I also feel like there are some massive misconceptions about leadership with some unfortunate consequences…especially in business:

  1. The leader as the self-absorbed hero – There are those who inspire, those who neither add nor take away from overall performance, and there are those who demotivate a large portion of those around them. Don’t be the third guy! If you notice that you turn off everyone around you, it is probably time for a change…a fundamental change.
  2. The leader as decision-delayer – please, make a decision and go with it. If that decision needs to be changed at a future point, by all means revisit. However, if everyone knows that the result of their work will not result in a decision, but rather telling them to do more research and come back later, they will then wait until the point at which the decision must be made to present their work. The decisive leader allows the organization to learn by moving forward.
  3. + The leader as facilitator – I’m not talking about the guy that tries to stop your boss from rambling at meetings. On the positive side, there are leaders who make everyone around them better and bring out their talents.
  4. + The leader as generator – These people boost the energy of those around them by their positive energy. People leave encounters with the generator feeling better about themselves, and ready to do more/better than they ever thought they could.

So how do we improve leadership in the procurement discipline? More fundamentally, are leaders born or bred? My feeling is that there is a fair amount of both. Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, from University College London gives me a bit of backing…thanks, big guy!

One way to improve leadership in procurement is through our human resource strategy…get beyond specific knowledge and experience to get the best people. Another is to develop the people already in the function. I was thrown into the fire as a 24-year-old Lieutenant leading a platoon of 50…not realistic for everyone, but the principle holds. Get people into positions of responsibility and give them the mandate – and potentially training – to make it happen.

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