This week’s webinar notes are from an August 27th webinar hosted by the Next Level Purchasing Association and featuring Steve Burns from the Maxwell Team. Although only premium members of the NLPA have access to the event on demand, you can hear an exclusive audio excerpt in my September 8th weekly update on Blog Talk Radio.
The focus of the webinar was how to build influence for the purpose of becoming a more effective leader. Since leadership affects so many people, you might expect it to be a collective sort of topic, but it was the exact opposite.
It is impossible to be a leader without knowing and accepting yourself. In fact, Burns started his presentation with a brief exercise: write down the three traits you would most like to see in a person on your team. Then he made the point that each of us participating wrote down three traits that we ourselves possess. In order to get what you want, you have to become it. Conversely, if you see something negative in yourself, only you can fix it.
Leadership, although it affects many other people, is a personal journey. It is likely to be more successful if you aren’t trying to force it by being overly forceful. Go somewhere cool and people will likely follow you.
It’s not a surprise that trust and integrity are critical to the effectiveness of a leader. Equally important is the need to care about the people who follow you and the people you follow. Exceptional achievement and performance require positive, productive relationships with both management and subordinates.
While you have to be confident and self-possessed to be an effective leader, humility allows both success and respect to multiply. Finding a reason to respect every person you come into contact with, and identifying the skill they can teach you, creates natural bonds and loyalty.
There are three feelings influential leaders must not possess: fear, dislike, and contempt. Being a people-person creates an opportunity for information exchange that may be critical to the success of the team. The only way to get that information is through effective listening.
Burns made an interesting point about listening. Find out what people care about (the positives) as well as their pains (the negatives). The reason for doing so, according to him, is to find out how you can help. Not how you can use the situation or the person’s motivations to your own advantage, but to identify opportunities to serve them.
In keeping with Charles Dominick’s sports-based procurement analogies (if you’ve read The Procurement Game Plan you’ll know what I mean) Burns also offered up the idea that being in procurement is like being a referee. We often find ourselves positioned between the conflicting interests of two parties, our colleagues and our suppliers. The decisions we make are equivalent to the calls made in a game. The better we understand the rules and the current business conditions, the better our calls will be.