10 suggestions for developing presence
The recognition that procurement and supply chain management are strategic to the success of businesses puts us in the spotlight with senior management. While technical and commercial skills help procurement professionals drive significant revenue and value from supply chain, executive presence helps them get their own seat at the table.
A few weeks ago, while teaching a class in the automotive industry, I asked the participants to look at the company’s procurement cost savings goal and the value contribution that was expected in the current fiscal year. Then I asked them to look at the company’s margin percentage and identify what level of incremental sales would be needed to make a similar contribution to the company’s profit margin. Like many cases when I ask this question, the response was that sales would have to achieve several billion dollars in incremental sales to achieve the same impact. This is why procurement professionals are being asked to:
- Deliver real value
- Collaborate internally and externally
- Build implementable strategies that continue to deliver value year on year
- Influence and inspire stakeholders
- Change styles and appeal to executives in complex matrix organization structures
- Adopt styles that meet the business needs of stakeholders in a global framework
- Move away from speaking procurement and tighten up messages for an executive audience
- Understand and develop political skills for the boardroom
With this in mind, I conducted an informal survey among some of the CEOs and CFOs about the readiness of their senior procurement staff to move into leadership roles that lead to running the company in the future. To my amazement, their response was that many of their teams lack executive presence and influencing skills.
It is essential to find champions, mentors and stakeholder support in any business. When dealing with complex organizations and difficult strategies, gaining alignment of the businesses will assure success. No one survives with a death by PowerPoint style in a Twitter world. Building frameworks that detail opportunities, benefits, cost and risk are the language of business.
Here are 10 suggestions that will help you enhance your executive presence:
- Connect with your audience and know their pain points
- Present your proposal with a TED-like talk
- Hone the message for your executive audience
- Speak with commitment, passion and energy
- Don’t stick to one method of persuasion; adjust your style to the audience
- Focus on active listening and engagement
- Be confident
- Use facts and data
- Anticipate what questions will be asked in advance
- Look the part
Mastering these skills will increase confidence that you have the capability for key leadership roles. But, don’t forget you must earn trust by saying what you’ll do, then doing what you say.
Technical competence gets attention, but executive presence gets the seat at the table.