What does it take to be a great purchasing leader?
Thomas Foxwell Buxton is quoted as having once said: “With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” World class purchasing leadership isn’t much different.
The #1 differentiator: THE ABILITY TO DRIVE CHANGE USING INFLUENCE INSTEAD OF AUTHORITY.
That’s it. Simple words, incredible actions behind making it happen though. It is a common theme, and only the best purchasing executives and leaders do it right.
When a leader tries to drive change using authority, they are no longer a leader. We call those people autocrats. Dictators. People you don’t like working for. People you follow because you have to, not because you want to.
Purchasing leaders have to influence in every direction: their organization, their partner groups, and upwards to the C-Suite. And while all other organizations (HR, Finance, Legal, Accounting, Manufacturing, etc.) have peers and C-Suite executives that fully understand and appreciate the value of those established functions, purchasing does not.
Only your own organization truly understands and appreciates purchasing. Partner groups frequently view purchasing as the organization that “gets our stuff” and the C-Suite sees the value in the management of cost and supply, but the real value of purchasing is not seen.
If you are in doubt, pick up a copy of your company’s annual report and look for anything written about purchasing as a competitive advantage or strategy anywhere in the CEO’s message to stockholders. Don’t hold your breath though. The best purchasing executives have influenced the C-Suite to see purchasing as a Value-Added Center of Profit for the company.
The best purchasing executives have influenced peer groups to see purchasing as being critical players in driving the transformational shift from buying goods and services to buying performance results. The best purchasing executives have influenced their organizations the follow them not because they have to, but because they want to, and because they see value in the vision and they feel a part of that vision.
Great leaders have ambassadors of their vision everywhere in their organizations.