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.
What still resonates with me 10 days after the Super Bowl
Yes, like many of you I’m adjusting to the gap between the end of the football season and the start of baseball. This year, though, I’m still thinking about the Super Bowl and the leadership it takes to succeed in adversity. While faced with adversity, several players in the Super Bowl had been cut from their former squad’s mid-season and, of course, Tom Brady was suspended for 4 games. Against all odds, after a blowout 1st half, the Patriots team maintained a steady head and won the game.
I listened to a Terry Bradshaw interview with Tom Brady about leadership and it really made me think. His attitude was incredible. He indicated as a leader you are the one person that can motivate he team, if you persist you will succeed, and the team will believe that they will succeed. If you come to the huddle defeated and down, the team will also reflect that feeling. The team executed a flexible strategy, stayed motivated and overcame unbelievable odds.
The leadership lesson we can all take away is that a steady leader with a flexible strategy, motivated team and steady execution of the strategy will succeed against all odds.
The best revenge is success! Congratulations to the Patriots!
Are you down for the count or on a steady course to win?
The question I am most often asked by CEOs
This is a question frequently asked by the C-suite, who is wrestling with autonomous business units seeking control over their P&L rather than optimizing leverage and synergy from the supply base. The answer that I give is always simple and easy to understand: Let the company’s’ expenditure be the guide to how you design the procurement organization. If the company has spend that crosses all business units and is strategic to the business, it needs technical expertise, global strategy and coordination. The other consideration is understanding regional markets and regional business requirements. This needs to be supported by regional teams, each with a perspective on the region they represent and serve. They can coordinate and drive regional strategies, while coordinating the implementation of global strategies. There will always be a need to have resources on the ground at the manufacturing location to buy and manage local requirements. A key role of the local procurement teams is input to supplier performance measurement.
While a three-tier organization is the most effective organization structure, it must tie in to the overall business objectives and deliver on the needs of the individual business units. The procurement team is the commercial arm of the business, responsible for cost and value improvement, supplier integration and alignment to the business and supplier risk management and performance delivery. This leaves conversion, productivity, sales and marketing to the business unit to optimize. This matrix organization works at its best when the organizational objectives for the business are clear, aligned and focused.
What sort of organization should a company have?
Let the spend be the guide.
photo credit: Adarsh Kummur