X Factor Research from The Faculty

Dr Karen Morley Asks What’s YOUR Leadership Narrative?

X Factor Research from The Faculty

Dr Karen Morley – Executive Coach, Associate Dean at Mt Eliza Education, expert on gender-balanced leadership and registered psychologist, took the stage at this week’s CIPS Australasia Conference to give a brilliant presentation on setting the bar for world-class leadership. 

Procurement professionals love hard facts and figures. That’s why it was so satisfying for the audience to see that Morley based her analysis of what makes a good CPO on an excellent paper produced by The Faculty Roundtable in 2012 – The “X Factor” Leadership Research. The X Factor model breaks down what is required of a world-class CPO to deliver competitive advantage for their organisation into four key areas: functional excellence, leadership attributes, people leadership, and commercial leadership.

In line with the conference theme of “Raise your game, raise your voice”, Dr Morley discussed the vital need for CPOs to be able to share their stories about the difference they’ve made to their business. She shared with the audience the stories of four past winners of The Faculty’s CPO of the Year Award, all of whom demonstrated strength and balance across the four categories of the X Factor model. Importantly, the four winners (all highly-regarded Australian CPOs) were able to successfully articulate and promote their achievements. The message is clear – don’t be shy to shout about your accomplishments. 

Having set the bar for what distinguishes a leading CPO from the pack, Dr Morley challenged the audience to step back from their day-to-day concerns and begin crafting what she called the “leadership narrative”. A leading CPO takes time to focus on what their story is and crafts a consistent message to help people understand where they’ve come from, what they’re focused on now, and where they’re going. Dr Morley puts it this way:

“Imagine you have lived your life as the leader you want to be and you are at your retirement party. How do others regard you?” 

Shape your story through:

  • Setting 3–5 year and 5–10 year goals
  • Creating a tagline – what’s unique and special about you?
  • Shaping your story by thinking consistently about capability, identity, values and core purpose.
  • Focusing on what’s critical – the X Factor model points to commercial leadership and personal attributes as the most critical areas for a CPO.

Dr Morley gave the audience some very practical advice on how to raise their voice. It’s all about “executive presence”. To increase your executive presence:

  • Project a calm and relaxed manner
  • Keep your conversation focused and to the point
  • Connect through sincere emotion
  • Adopt a “power pose” to give you confidence (“fake it, and become it”)
  • Attract and hold the attention of others – in Dr Morley’s words, “attention is the currency of leadership”.

To boil Dr Morley’s advice down to three key points, procurement leaders who want to stand out from the pack should firstly understand exactly what it takes to be a leading CPO (using the X Factor Research), create a leadership narrative to craft their own story, and finally, raise their voice by increasing their executive presence.

Read our previous interview with Dr Morley here.