Last week I talked about the need to decompress, and the importance of our own wellbeing (thank you all for the birthday wishes!!)
This week, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, I want to turn the tables and consider those around us, in particular, our procurement stakeholders.
A good friend, Alison Smith, shared to all on LinkedIn a “love letter” she penned called, Dear Organization, with Love from Procurement xx. I really enjoy Alison’s work. Her philosophy of using unconventional tools to help us challenge our conventional thinking particularly resonates with me. You can check out more on her blog, The Purchasing Coach.
“Sometimes, I’ve let trying to please you get in the way of offering the advice or support you required to help you achieve what you needed to. I know that’s what you loved about me when we first met, but I think we’ve moved past that. What I should have given you is good, long term, advice”
As I reflect on Alison’s article, I see a choice:
A) Do I respect my stakeholders or B) Do I respect myself?
Many important choices show up as seemingly mutually exclusive options. Often, clarity of purpose can provide a powerful perspective wherein these two “opposing” opportunities are actually mutually reinforcing or symbiotic: doing “A” actually requires embracing “B”.
Basically, I believe to be relevant and valuable to our stakeholders we must pursue a path of alignment. All too often, however, we tend towards the submissive in doing what they want in service of this notion of alignment. When we move this way, just because it may be uncomfortable to challenge the status quo or a shortsighted goal, we essentially give up on us and on them.
Well, nobody ever said that being a procurement professional would be easy 🙂
Leaving a Mark
Being a professional means providing counsel without fear or favor.
There are two kinds of empathy: authentic and inauthentic. The video that opened this piece is a great example of the latter. This short video (2:29), Cleveland Clinic’s Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care, helps us connect to others, showing what authentic empathy can look like.
From my perspective, if we are to be true to our our vocation and avocation (i.e., affecting sustainable change and value creation for everyone within and without the organization) we must provide that counsel in a way that is accessible to everyone we deal with (team members, stakeholders and external organizations alike). The most respectful and productive way, for my money, is to see the world through the eyes of another.
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (Habit 5, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People By Stephen Covey)
It is not enough for us to be experts in our chosen fields or even be able to articulate why we get such pushback from the very people we are looking to serve. We also have to fundamentally connect with why they see us the way they do and then, and only then, help them understand us.
Some questions to ponder:
- What is one situation in the last three months where I felt my stakeholder didn’t appreciate what I was working to create for them?
- What is it about that situation, specifically in the interactions between myself and my stakeholder, that I missed?
- What is one thing I could have done that would have transformed that situation into a win-win?
- Do I see my stakeholder as my partner or my client?
- Do I believe that the opposite of talking is listening? (be careful, it is a trick question 😉 )
Being a Catalyst
Have you come across an article, whitepaper, video or podcast that you would like to share with your fellow catalysts, please send a quick email with the details. I read every email and am eager to read yours.
Are You Going to ProcureCon?
If you are going to be at ProcureCon Indirect East next week at Amelia Island in Florida, let me know – I’ll be there on Tuesday – Thursday. I welcome the chance to meet In Real Life.
I’ll also have my recording gear with me for some onsite interviews. While I already have several interviews scheduled, I am always eager expand my perspective. So if you have a topic or two that you feel will resonate with your fellow AOP listeners (or have an interest in recording an episode together at the show or at another time), please drop me a line!
Until next time,