Tag Archives: career advice

From Mountains to Medals – Find Your Inner Gold

How can you accelerate your supply chain career? By finding your inner gold, of course, on Day 5 of Career Boot Camp 2019.

CBC 2019 - Day 5 - Gold

Dr Karen Darke MBE is our coach on Day Five of Career Boot Camp 2019Sign up here to listen to her podcast now.

Ability is a state of mind, not a state of body. 

We all have incredible power within us to change our thoughts, our emotions, and our energy field. We can all learn to be our own alchemist, to transform unwanted emotions or experiences into gold, be creators of our reality, change our performance, our wellbeing, our world.

That’s the powerful message you will hear from today’s podcast guest Dr. Karen Darke MBE. Karen could be described as a modern-day alchemist: an adventurer, athlete, speaker and author all rolled into one. Karen’s purpose is all about inspiring and impacting, about turning challenge into opportunity – finding your ‘inner gold’.

Karen started out as a geologist in the Bolivian Andes researching and searching for gold. But a life-changing accident that left her paralysed led her away from being a ‘rock-doctor’ to a quest to achieve Paralympic gold.

Finding Your Prime in 79

Karen is fascinated by the importance gold has had on her life.  Her gold medal in the sport of hand-cycling in Rio 2016 was the 79th medal for Britain, and 79 being the elemental number for Gold led to Karen creating ‘Quest 79: Find Your Inner Gold’.  

The project has seen Karen cycle 7 continents and 9 rides, raising £79K for Spinal Injuries and encouraging people to step out of their comfort zones and discover their passion, purpose or ability: their ‘inner gold’.

Karen views life as an adventure, and embraces all its experiences as opportunities to learn and grow. She has faced some extreme lows on her own roller coaster, and knows how trauma and life events can lead to fear and pain.  

As a part of her journey, Karen has generated some highs on her roller coaster, exploring and extending the limits of possibility physically, mentally, and emotionally. She has skied across icecaps, kayaked at extreme latitudes of the planet, and hand-cycled the world’s biggest mountain ranges and longest rivers.

She has also extensively explored and studied what goes on inside, from the power of the mind and thoughts to enable performance, to the impact of high frequency emotions to transform and heal. Her career as an athlete and adventurer, combined with her unique studies of mind, wellbeing, and healing make Karen a specialist in transformation.

Finding Your Own Gold

Karen recommends starting with a few simple steps.

  • When difficult or unwanted things happen, hold back from reacting and instead ask “What can I learn from this? How can this make me stronger? How can I use this experience to help myself or others?” Know you are going to learn something useful.
  • Be the observer of your own thoughts, and practice stopping or changing the unhelpful ones. Transform limiting thoughts into curious, expansive thoughts: for example, change “I’ll never manage this” into “This is interesting as I’ve never done anything like this before…I wonder what will happen next.”
  • Develop your self-awareness and take a gardening approach, digging out the unhelpful weeds! (Your mind is the garden, your thoughts are the seeds, you can plant flowers, or you can grow weeds).  This way helps you to stop getting caught up in ‘stories’ and being a victim of circumstances, to become the creator of your reality.

Karen has distilled valuable learning and lessons through her years of experience and study so that she can share them with others. Subscribe or contact Karen at www.karendarke.com/contact to receive information about forthcoming webinars, courses and learning experiences.

Exploring New Places in Your Supply Chain Career

If you thought a career in supply chain meant you’d be working in the same place with the same people for many years to come, think again!

supply chain career

Ron Castro, Vice President IBM Supply Chain is our coach on Day Four of Career Boot Camp 2019Sign up here to his podcast now.

If you thought a career in supply chain meant you’d be working in the same place with the same people for many years to come, think again! 

Ron Castro, Vice President, IBM Supply Chain’s CV sounds more like a global expedition of discovery than a traditional professional career.  Australia, China, Brazil and the US – Ron’s career has taken him to roles in all four corners of the globe.  He even managed to fit in a stint in France along the way.

Work Across the Business

So how did Ron achieve his impressive globe-trotting career?  He attributes his success to an unquenchable thirst to explore and work in every aspect of the business.  “Rotating across the supply chain and your organisation can help to connect the dots,” advises Ron.  Becoming a subject matter expert in all aspects of the work, he believes,  makes it easier to develop a holistic approach.

Ron hasn’t limited his experience to just the world of work.  His involvement in learning and development to support supply chain professionals across the industry, plus a board position on a non-profit organisation, show his thirst for new ideas and different perspectives extends outside working hours.

Ron recommends that supply chain professionals “be involved across initiatives”.  He’s found that this approach helped him to see things from a different perspective – one of the skills that is essential at a time when the world is constantly changing and moving forward.

Don’t be Afraid to Fail

Ron is concerned that “people play it safe and have a fear of failure.”  His career success had been built on taking risks and using trusted early warning systems to course correct if his ideas start moving off track. 

In Ron’s view, far too many supply chain professionals aim to low and achieve unambitious targets.  “Better to shoot for the stars and hit the moon,” Ron stresses.

Your Exploration Road Map

So how can you chart your expedition to supply chain career success?  Ron has seven tips that you can try:

  1. Be bold – set yourself an ambitious target today
  2. Make time for the important things rather than letting urgent things dominate your day – being able to achieve important things will define your career
  3. Take care of your mind and your body – perhaps take up mountain biking like Ron
  4. Be balanced and be a holistic thinker – seek out opportunities to gain insight that can help you join the dots
  5. Build a strong network – connect with as many people as you can inside and outside your work
  6. Skills become obsolete – learning is lifelong not just for when you are at school
  7. Have passion and love what you do – if not find yourself something another role.

Why not start your expedition today by setting yourself an ambitious career goal?  Follow Ron’s chart for success to see where next for your supply chain career journey.

Step Out of Your Silo to Propel Your Supply Chain Career

Are you ready to step out of your silo to share skills and expertise freely with other areas? 

CBC Day 3 escape your silo

Dr. Alexis Bateman, Director MIT Sustainable Supply Chain is our coach on Day Three of Career Boot Camp 2019Sign up here to here her podcast now.

Dr. Alexis Bateman, Director of Sustainable Supply Chain at MIT, believes that a career in supply chain has the potential to be varied and exciting.  “I’ve been able to bring new insights and fresh thinking [to my role] and in some ways I wish I’d found supply chain earlier in my career,” she says. And she is clear that an open approach to ideas and people could be the key to an upward career trajectory.

Many people and Many Views

The variety that’s embedded in a career in supply chain comes, in part, from the departments of the organisation with which the function needs to interact. Alexis loves the way that this collaboration exposes her to many different points of view. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to interact with so many people,” she says. “Almost everyone has something to teach me.”

Alexis describes her sustainability and supply chain role at MIT as one of working with people from different disciplines who have a variety of conceptual experiences. She believes that working across organisations can really help us to think more broadly about issues and projects.

The opportunity to work in a team with many perspectives is something that Alexis sees as being a key part of a supply chain professional’s role. From engineers, technicians, analysts, and strategists, every discipline and perspective can be part of a supply chain team. Close collaboration and problem solving, she says, is just what’s required when you’re working to improve sustainability.

When she’s leading teams at MIT, Alexis’ role is to make sure these roles are aligned, and voices are heard equally. In her experience, “all voices are there for a reason and unique perspectives can push a project forward or enable the team to think of something really innovative.”

Get Out of Your Silo

“A silo view of the organisation and consequently the topics covered in learning and development is the wrong way to progress a supply chain career,” warns Alexis. She advocates against a heads-down, staying in your comfort zone approach. In her experience, where someone broadens out their perspective to think about how they can apply their expertise and knowledge, a range of opportunities to progress will appear.

Alexis urges people to think more broadly about what they do next. “In supply chain, expertise can really be moulded to different positions,” she reports. And the good news is that, in her experience, having an open mind can be a chance to advance your career.

Thinking about your supply chain career trajectory is something that Alexis would encourage all supply chain professionals to do. Supply chain looks at the organisation from many different perspectives: sustainability, logistics, procurement, last mile, and this means that are many roles where different expertise is required.

“There’s so much upward mobility in supply chain,” she says, “from Chief Supply Chain Officer all the way to the CEO.” Alexis is optimistic about the opportunities that are out there for supply chain professionals who love variety and are prepared to broaden their experience and their skills.

Making Variety Part of What you Do

So how can you seek escape the silo and understand the world and the variety of opportunities out there? Alexis has these tips that you can use to embed the search for different into your routine:

  1. Read a lot – try to fit lots of reading into your life;
  2. Read daily – set a slot aside each day when you make time to read;
  3. Read about different subjects – it doesn’t always have to be about supply chain;
  4. Listen to podcasts – they’re a great way to absorb new information particularly when you’re on the move.

Why not embrace variety into your life by becoming a reader and podcast listener? Follow Alexis’ tips to unlock the potential for success in your supply chain career that could take you right to the top.

Supply Chain Hack – Get to Know Your Brain

Could the human brain be augmented in the future to the benefit of supply chain? Find out on Day 2 of Career Boot Camp 2019!

Career Boot Camp 2019 - Day 2 Brain

Professor Moran Cerf is our guest on Day Two of Career Boot Camp 2019Sign up here to listen to his podcast now.

Do you sometimes wish you could upgrade your professional performance to the next level by simply inserting a micro-chip into your brain with the supply chain skills you need?

Professor Cerf started out in the depths of the cyber world as a hacker, spending 15 years cracking the secrets of computing’s black box.  His career took a different course when Francis Crick, of DNA discovery fame, gave him some career advice.  Moran recalls that his mentor encouraged him to move away from focussing on computers and  “apply his expertise to the most complex black box in the world,” the human brain.

We’ve all heard of the concept of ‘biohacking’, where people make small, incremental changes to their diets and/or lifestyles, resulting in changes to health and wellbeing.  At one end, this can be as simple as reducing your sugar or caffeine consumption.  At the other, perhaps more extreme, end it can involve the use of technology, gadgets or implants designed to ‘hack’ your biology to improve yourself.

Moran is fascinated about the way the brain solves problems, imagines the future and even composes music.  He thinks we may never fully understand the processes inside our heads but he’s excited about the ways that machine learning can mimic the brain and potentially augment it.   

Consider how this could be used to improve the day-to-day lives of billions of people. Could the future hold a time when we have a microchip inserted to augment our brain to become a Human 2.0?  Could this be applied to help our brains do the analytical things we need to do in supply chain?

Playing to your Cerebral Strengths

One piece of Moran’s research, in partnership with Red Bull, sought to identify why some people perform better than others.  How do some people manage to carry on while others give up?  The research team “wanted to see whether we could tap into the part of the brain that regulates performance.”

And it turned out that it was possible to identify the conditions when performance started to dip.  By monitoring the reaction in the brain in the seconds before a person gave up, the research team could send trigger to give a performance boost.  The brain would then react to increase performance and improve motivation to carry on with a task.  Moran’s team’s findings were clear – “There is always the potential to do more and do it better.”

Moran advises Boot Camp participants to think of  the brain as a muscle whose performance you can improve. “The key,” he tells us, “is to play to your brain’s strengths and carry out tasks at times and condition.” 

Five Steps to Improve Your Self-Control Muscle

How can we get into the neuro-science gym and practice the professor’s spin class for our brain? He has five steps we can take to improve our brain performance:

  1. Identify the key activities you do in your role and keep a diary to capture data about the times of the day when you carry out these activities
  2. Review your performance each day – did you do these activities well, were there any factors that influenced your performance?
  3. Identify the times of the day and conditions when your performance in each activity has been the best.
  4. Align your schedule so that you do these activities at the time of day that works best for your brain

Why not kick-start your training today by running through these steps, starting your very own diary and seeing if you get even more than you thought possible from your brain?

And what better way to start than by listening to the Professor himself on our Career Boot Camp 2019 podcast series!

Your Supply Chain Career: A Path to Adventure

If it’s adventure you’re looking for, look no further than supply chain for your career choices. Find out why on Day 1 of Career Boot Camp.

Career Boot Camp 2019 - Day 1

Stephen Day is our coach on Day One of Career Boot Camp 2019. Sign up here to listen to his podcast now. 

Are you sitting at your desk dreaming of a supply chain role that can take you far-away places and foreign lands? Do you wish that your job included the opportunity to try new things and work in different roles?

Stephen Day’s career journey certainly hasn’t seen him stuck in a rut with his wheels spinning. He’s worked in a range of industries and a variety of roles across the globe and attributes his career success to thirst for knowledge and the absence of a fear for the unknown.

Stephen has made many changes in his career. After starting in engineering, Stephen pivoted to telecoms and, after a decade, made another switch to educational publishing. He found the skills and knowledge he’d gained in each industry could be easily transferred to new sectors and new roles.

Break the Habit of Fear

“People can get into bad habits that are not helpful,” Stephen advises. “They can get so wedded to the salary that they end up really miserable – our careers are relatively short – we need to do the work where we feel energised and can make a difference.” 

Fear, Stephen warns, can keep people stuck in the wrong roles.

But the good news is that a career in supply chain has never looked better. There are plenty of great supply chain roles for professionals that want to make the change and who have the skills and capabilities to take on a new role.

The opportunity to work with a variety of new leaders will provide chances to learn and grow. Stephen is grateful that that he’s been able to work with great leaders and thinks that this is an important part of any supply chain professional’s career journey. “Are the people you are working with inspiring you?” he asks.  If not, perhaps it’s time to make a change.

Luck is Not a Random Event

Stephen favorite piece of advice comes from the Greek philosopher Seneca: “Luck is what happens where preparation meets opportunity.”

He’s always seeking out new ways to be prepared. Over the years, Stephen’s efforts to keep current and up to date have enabled him to have broader conversations at all levels of the organisations in which he has worked. Building his credibility meant that when he sought to implement transformation and change, senior leadership were ready to listen to his ideas.

Three Steps to Build Bravery for your Career Adventure

To make sure that your acts of career bravery and an appetite for adventure aren’t foolhardy, Stephen has these three tips for you to try:

  1. Find ways that you can keep up to date with issues in your industry;
  2. Volunteer for difficult projects when they arise – organisations like people who are prepared to do the hard stuff;
  3. Develop your network so that people think of you when opportunities arise.

Why not take the first step to build your network on Procurious by reaching out to other supply chain professionals today? You can start with Stephen Day as your first step to grow the connections in your supply chain network!

Pedal Hard, Reach the Top – Career Boot Camp 2019

Does your career need a boost to reach the top? Jump back in the saddle because we’ve got the solution for you – Career Boot Camp is back for 2019!

Imagine it is 2030. You are the Chief Supply Chain Officer of a $30 billion sustainable supply chain, and through using technology, gadgets and even implants, you structure your work day and round your peak performance levels. Is it a dream? Maybe. But you can start building this future reality next week with Procurious’ Career Boot Camp 2019.

We have curated some of the greatest global minds in supply chain, artificial intelligence, motivation and sustainability to give you a powerful push start towards the highest peaks of the supply chain profession.

Over 5 days next week, we’ll be sharing insights and learning from some of the freshest thinkers around in our no charge podcast series!

Introducing our Trainers

We have an incredible line-up of trainers for Career Boot Camp 2019. Just in case you haven’t had a chance to look yet, here’s a quick introduction:

Day 1 – Steve Day, Supply Chain Executive

The beauty of a career in supply chain is that you get to visit all sorts of exciting places and gain a wide range of experience from across the globe! And that’s exactly what our first Career Boot Camp 2019 trainer has done.

Steve Day is a Supply Chain Executive with expertise in Operations Management Supply Chain, Purchasing, Multi-Country Transformation and Change . Steve has led a number of operational transformations and developed new business models to support enterprise wide evolution from product to services and software revenue models.

His experience in the implementation of innovative approaches to existing business models, harnessing the power of the supply chain, has led him to senior positions helping a number of major organisations spearhead their digital transformations. We’re excited for him to share some of his career lessons with us!

Day 2 – Professor Moran Cerf, Neuroscientist, and Business Professor at the Kellogg School of Management

On Day 2 we will hear from Professor Moran Cerf, who will help learn how to get the peak performance from our brain. His research helps individuals and businesses harness the current knowledge of the brain to improve thinking and understanding of customers and business decisions.

Dr. Cerf’s academic studies apply methods from neuroscience to further understand the underlying mechanisms of our psychology, behavior changes, emotion, decision-making and dreams. In his acclaimed work, he studies patients undergoing brain-surgery by recording the activity of individual nerve cells using electrodes implanted in the patient’s brain. His work offers us a novel way to understand our psyche by observing the brain directly from within.

Day 3 – Alexis Bateman, Director, MIT Sustainable Supply Chains

Dr. Alexis Bateman’s work at MIT focuses on one of the exciting areas of supply chain impact – sustainability. In her work, Dr. Bateman studies supply chain sustainability through research, education, and outreach. She has engaged closely with industrial partners, public agencies, global governance organisations and non-governmental organisations.

Through MIT Sustainable Supply Chains, Dr. Bateman helps to bring together researchers from across MIT to examine the issue of supply chain sustainability, engaging on educational initiatives, research with industrial partners, and outreach to advance the knowledge around supply chain sustainability.

Day 4 – Ron Castro, Vice President, IBM Supply Chain

Do you dream of one day running one of the world’s leading supply chains?  Do you want to know what it takes to get to the top? On Day 4 you can listen and learn from an amazing global supply chain leader.

Ron Castro is responsible for all strategy, execution and transformation of IBM’s global end-to-end supply chain, delivering to clients across more than 170 countries. This transformation is inclusive of thought leadership, global talent development and is supported by a culture of engagement, agility and innovation.

Castro is leading the digital and cognitive transformation for supply chain leveraging emerging technologies to build transparent, intelligent and predictive supply chains at scale.

Day 5 – Dr. Karen Darke MBE, British Paralympic Gold Medal Winning and World Champion Hand-Cyclist, Para-triathlete, Adventurer and Author

We will finish the week on a real high, learning from an Olympic gold medalist how we all have incredible power within us to change our thoughts, our emotions, and our energy field.

After becoming World Para-triathlon Champion in 2012 and winning Paralympic Gold in hand-cycling at Rio 2016, Karen has hand-cycled to all four corners of the world, including Central Asia and the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the length of the Japanese archipelago.

As a coach and facilitator, author, speaker, and broadcaster, Karen works regularly with young people, schools, businesses and other organisations particularly on the subjects of challenge, change, resilience, sustainable wellbeing and maintaining a positive mental state. Her latest book, “Quest 79: Find Your Inner Gold”, is a collection of short stories and positive psychology tips, all based around her own experiences and life.  Karen aims to help Bootcamp participants find their inner gold.

Career Boot Camp FAQs

How could you not to be inspired by that group? If that’s got you motivated already, then make sure you sign up right now to access the podcasts as they go live. Here are the key things you need to know about how the Career Boot Camp 2019 podcast series works.

  • When does Career Boot Camp take place?

Starting on the 11th November, Career Boot Camp will run for five days. The podcasts will be accompanied by daily blogs from our Supply Chain Career Coaches plus group discussions and articles on Procurious.

When the series is complete, all five podcasts will be available for registrants via the Procurious eLearning hub, FREE of charge.

  • How do I listen to the Career Boot Camp podcasts?

Simply sign up or log in and you’ll be re-directed to the Supply Chain Pros group where you can access all five podcasts. You will also join a mailing list, which will alert you each time a new podcast is released.

  • How will I know when each podcast is published?

The series will run for one week, starting on November 11th, with a podcast released on Procurious each day. We’ll drop you an email to let you know as each podcast becomes available.

  • Why should I take part in Career Boot Camp every day?

Dedicating 15 minutes a day to developing and progressing your supply chain career can make the difference between standing still, or sprinting into more impactful roles. At Procurious, we firmly believe that daily learning is essential for career advancement. And Career Boot Camp will help you get into the habit!

Don’t delay, sign up now and unleash your inner Olympian or Grand Tour winner! Before you know it, you’ll be out of the career valleys and heading for the very highest peaks of the supply chain profession.

The 11 Reasons Your Career Might Fail

Are you going to succeed or fail? It’s not about how good you are at the job – it’s all down to personality.

personality
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

You probably think that you know yourself quite well. Perhaps you consider yourself to be intelligent, hard-working and, more importantly, ambitious. That means you are destined for the top, right?

Not necessarily. We all have three aspects to our character that are important in terms of career success:

  1. The bright side (the part of us that we show in interviews, for example)
  2. A dark side (which often comes out under pressure)
  3. Our inside (our core values).

While the first one might help us get a job, the last two can derail us. So how do you get a better understanding of 2 and 3?

Knowing Yourself is Key

“What is important is your reputation – how others see you and what you are known as – not who you think you are,” says Dr Robert Hogan of Hogan Assessments, which has conducted almost nine million personality profile assessments globally.

“However, the worst possible way to understand yourself is through introspection, because people lie to themselves.

“We know from our tests that there is not a high correlation between what people think of themselves and their reputations. That is why it is not uncommon for people to say ‘That is not how I see myself’ after undertaking a personality test.”

So, you need to ask other people how they see you. If you are not fortunate enough to have been personality tested by your employer as part of a recruitment process, try a 360 with colleagues and friends. Be prepared for some home truths and to really listen to this feedback.

Are you the Right Fit?

In addition to having the right personality for the job, you need to fit the organisation. In simple terms, if you want to make a difference, but your employer just wants to make profits – you will fail.

 “It does not matter how talented you are, if your values don’t match the culture of the organisation you will not be happy,” continues Dr Hogan. “It is not about being right or wrong, just a wrong fit.”

So before looking for a new job, thoroughly research the organisation – not what they say are their values, but how they live them. 

Know Your Derailers

The things that makes us good at our jobs, can also work against us, so it is also important to be aware of what personality traits could derail your career.

“Someone with high scores for paranoia, for example, will be really good at organisational politics,” continues Dr Hogan. “They are astute and will know who is out to get them. This can be a strength in certain circumstances but can become a problem if taken to the extreme”.

Most of us will exhibit a number of the 11 dark side personality traits identified by Hogan Assessments.  So do you recognise yourself in any of these?

Excitable

You have lots of energy and enthusiasm for new projects.

Derailers: You can become quickly disinterested when things don’t go according to plan and are in danger of expressing your frustrations with people and projects (often publicly).

Skeptical

You tend to be distrustful of others, believing they will stab you in the back if you let your guard down. This makes you attuned to the sometimes-ugly underbelly of organisational politics.

Derailers: Being trustful works both ways – you might not be able to gain anyone’s trust. You may also be too secretive.

Cautious

You live in constant fear of making a mistake. Always operating with the worst-case-scenario in mind will ensure you think everything through carefully, which can be an asset.

Derailers: You may be reluctant to try new approaches or to make-decisions. As a result, people might work around you so you could be side-lined.

Reserved

You believe that work is done best when people can focus in complete solitude. Which might be a great character trait if you need to focus or work on complex tasks such as computer programming.

Derailers: Locking yourself away (particularly when things get stressful) can leave you out of the loop. You may also be seen as unsympathetic or unhelpful.

Leisurely

You are probably liked and respective as you are polite and socially skilled.

Derailers: You might not be very productive – particularly when faced with challenges. As such you may tend to find ways to avoid and deflect responsibility.

Bold

You are inspiring, courageous and confident – great character traits for those who like to get things done.

Derailers: You might not be a good team player as bold people tend to take the credit for wins, but blame everyone else for failures and they don’t always recognise the hard work of others.

Mischievous

You love thrill and excitement, thrive in high-octane situations, are willing to take risks and spring into action taking on large, ambitious projects.

Derailers: Not putting in the groundwork and not considering the hard work of others who help make things happen.

Colourful

You like being the centre of attention and enjoy the fame and attention of running big projects.

Derailers: Watch out for being poor at organisation, indecisive and erratic and chaotic. 

Imaginative

Highly creative, you love to engage in brainstorming sessions coming up with solutions – often ones that are highly innovative.

Derailers: Making simple problems immensely complex, becoming easy bored by daily tasks and easily distracted. You can be seen as unfocused and impractical.

Diligent

You are a perfectionist and the go-to person to get things done.

Derailers: Taking on more than you can manage which can slow down productivity. A tendency to micro-manage and you have a hard time delegating.

Dutiful

You rely heavily (too heavily) on other team-members hoping they will carry the project through.

Derailers: You lack initiative and resourcefulness and pass the buck – quite happy to not take any real responsibility or make any risky decisions.

The Good News is You Can Get Better

If you recognise yourself in any of these dark-side traits (perhaps you are excitable and easily bored), you now know what could derail your career.

The next step is to get professional coaching. “Just as professional tennis players get a pro to help improve their game, you can do the same,” says Dr Hogan.

This Halloween Beware the Scary Old-World CPO

It’s Hallowe’en! Is your boss scarier than your average ghoul? Is your career in the grip of a scary, old-world CPO and doomed to wither?

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

– Lewis Carroll, 1871

You’ll know a scary, old-world CPO when you see one.

I had almost forgotten about them until I found myself in a meeting with one last week. Somehow in recent times I have escaped the horror of hearing such old-world, closed network thinking like:

  • “I don’t want my team on social media, someone may poach them”
  • “We’re too busy working to be looking at what’s happening in the rest of the world”
  • “We know our business best”
  • “What if my team spends all day on social media?”

To the team at Procurious, these comments are like blasphemy. We’re on a mission to change the face of procurement, and give the images associated with the profession a makeover. We want to replace the old brown cardigan-clad stereotype, with fresh images of procurement as the “smartest guys in the room”.

My meeting with this archetypal nemesis reminded me of all the reasons why we founded Procurious. It gave me increased motivation to continue our mission, and gave rise to an overwhelming urge to protect all the amazing rising stars in procurement from the soul-crushing dictatorship of a scary, old-world CPO.

The Old-World CPO

Let’s face it, if your personal characteristics and actions portray an image that you’re living in the past, the chances are good you are. People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.

As such, we want to reward the great bosses, those leading by example, keeping their teams energised, investing in individuals’ careers, and continuously pushing procurement to excel.

What are the tell-tale signs of a scary, old-world CPO? The next time you’re going for an interview, or looking at your current boss, don’t fall for the flashy suit, big title, or even the big brand name they represent.

If the person opposite you falls into one of these categories, the chances are your career development will come to a screeching halt under such a draconian regime. 

The (Digitally) Invisible Man…or Woman

Check whether this CPO has any sort of online presence. Tell-tale signs of invisibility include profiles with no photos, or inappropriate photos, scant, or no, information, and no visible mentions in a Google search.

There may have been a freak internet-cleansing event, wiping out all references to this person, but the reality is that they probably haven’t spoken at any events, written anything interesting, taken the time or effort to understand social media, or understand the fact that you will be researching them online.

Also, beware those CPOs who have fewer than 500 connections in their network. Some CPOs do make the case of quality vs quantity. But, if you’re working in a large company, have a large team, and work with an extensive supply base, shouldn’t 500 quality connections be expected?

You (and the majority of your peers) want to work for someone who is an influencer. You want a leader with a wide range of connection they can introduce you to, and broaden your horizons. Working with someone with a limited network can be a road to nowhere for your career prospects.

Robinson Crusoe – the Loner

This CPO really is an island.

They don’t believe in networking, collaborating, or outside knowledge flow, and believe information is for their own personal advantage to build their power base. The Robinson Crusoe profile can physically manifest itself as an executive sitting in a corner by themselves, with their back to the team.

This information block exists not only within their psyche, but extends to the procurement team itself. This old-world CPO has particularly old-world views, and creates a knowledge hierarchy, where they take all the great (and politically advantageous) ideas as their own.

Another problem with this approach is that it encourages working in a closed network as part of the norm. These scary old world CPOs end up staying in the same profession, peer group, company, or industry, invariably associating with people they already know. This peer group continues to reinforce their outdated approach to management, and their thinking is never challenged.

The new world CPO is collaborative, a “true influencer” and shares their knowledge freely and widely.

My view is that a CPO’s main job is to not only drive change and innovation (and make a couple of deals on the side), but to give their team the opportunity to access tools and discuss ideas with other professionals, thought leaders and experts from around the globe.

Yet I still see CPOs encouraging teams to work in isolation, unaware that there is whole universe of knowledge to help them grow and excel in their jobs.

The Devil Wears Prada – The Career Crusher

Their desk calendar reads 2016, but their attitude towards employees is stuck in the 1950s.

Yes, your boss should have an overall plan for how their team is delivering against the overall business strategy. But they should also have a plan for you – both for what you need to deliver, and how you need to develop in the future.

They should be committed to diversity and promoting young talent, to making sure their team reflects this commitment and is generating opportunities for the next generation of talent.

The best CPOs are obsessed with finding the best people and helping them develop. They send their people out to be trained in the skills they need, expose them to new opportunities, and build peer networks that will develop leadership skills.

The worst CPOs keep their category managers locked away from the rest of the world in fear that their people will be poached. A great CPO doesn’t need to worry about this. They know that they have developed a great employee value proposition that keeps their team engaged and retained.

Reverse Mentoring

Let’s not be too hard on these talented Heads of Procurement. They can’t all be cut from the same cloth.

Why not get on the front foot and try and initiate some reverse mentoring. With a few polite, and well-placed pointers, I am sure you could help turn your scary, old-world CPO into a procurement rock star.

Sharing your skills and knowledge could help your CPO become increasingly tech savvy and an advocate for technology, including social media, for procurement. And just in case you need some more points, you can find a 5-point checklist on being a great procurement boss right here.

We look forward to seeing you both on Procurious soon!

Your Top 4 Tech Tools for Influence

Want to up your influence and get some engagement for new ideas? Then you need these tools to help out-contribute the competition…

Photo by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash

Influence is always a matter of consistently making a more valuable contribution to your target market than your competitors. The challenge is that consistency takes time – how much time depends on how smart you get.

Recently I was speaking with a procurement professional who was struggling to find time to create content. His influence within his networks was growing, but he was stuck in the trap most of us get caught in – focusing on stakeholder management. My advice was to apply the 6:3 rule. Schedule and commit to six solid hours once a quarter, then three hours every week to ‘out-contribute’ your network.

To break 6:3 down into its simplest form – once a quarter you focus on creating a large piece of cornerstone value. This could be a video, podcast interviews or an emerging trends report. The most important factor is that it’s tailored and valuable to your target audience.

This then gets broken down into a number of smaller pieces of content over the next 90 days, such as articles, social posts or ‘Trend Update’ emails. The three hours each week is then spent keeping on top of industry news and trends. Pulling out key insights, saving them for the next quarters content drive and sharing them within your network via email or social media.

Sound like too much? Consider this. The latest research shows that it takes 10 ‘touch points’ to get someone to take action on a new idea or product. However unfortunately most of us give up after one or two attempts to get real engagement. The good news is it’s easy to increase your output with the right support. Here are my top four simple tech tools to keep your influence on track:

Flipboard

Flipboard runs my brain. It’s an online magazine that allows you save articles straight from your smart phone under a variety of different topics. Any time I find something interesting, I save it to my Flipboard magazine and then once a week (usually early Monday morning over coffee) I go through everything and decide what to share. I have a magazine for content, one for possible podcast guests, one for industry events, and so on.

Buffer

Buffer is a great social media scheduling tool. There are tons out there at the moment, with varying degrees of functionality. However I’ve found Buffer has the simplest interface on a mobile device – which is where I spend most of my time. It basically allows you to create and then schedule posts across nearly every social media platform. In just half an hour (again usually a Monday morning) I can schedule the core posts for the week and then just top up as the week unfolds.

Unroll.Me

This website changed my email life. It’s a free tool that takes your email address – then scours your account to find every single subscription – creating a long list from which you can unsubscribe en mass. However that’s not all. You can then add the rest to your ‘Rollup’ – which gets sent as a short summary of every single newsletter you wanted to keep – all in one email. Hours of Inbox space given back. You’re welcome.

Canva

Canva has been a complete game changer for graphic design. A super-simple design platform – it offers a huge amount of quality free presentation slides and social media templates for those that want impact without the hassle. However, if you want to take it up a level – you can also upload your own templates and change the text and images as you need them. Best of all you can do it all on your smartphone in 30 seconds from the back of a cab, which is my test for anything that claims to be time-efficient.

Staying ahead of the ideas and trends in your space – then having the time to translate them with your own insights takes work. If it didn’t, everyone would do it. But if you can get the right schedule and tools in place, “I don’t have time” should never be an excuse.

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration into what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes or her website.

Are You Working for a Narcissist?

Leadership styles are under the microscope – with Trump and Boris being analysed endlessly. However, the so-called “great man” style of leadership is not always an easy one to live (or work) with.

narcissist
Photo by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash

Humans instinctively respond to confidence in a positive way. Experts who sound the most authoritative are generally listened to more and believed wholeheartedly.

As a result, it is the most self-assured in their pronouncements who tend to be held in the highest esteem – regardless of whether they are telling the truth or are being accurate or not.

The problem is that while this may help these individuals rise to the top, they might not be great for your organisation…or your career.

Narcissists are Highly Believable – So Try to Keep an Open Mind

So how do you spot a narcissist? Well, it is important to analyse what your existing/future boss is saying rather than being fooled by how they are saying it.

According to The Myers-Briggs Company (one of the world’s largest business psychology providers) experts who “sound” the most confident are also more likely to get things wrong. “Therefore, overzealous and over-confident leaders can mean potential dangers for both the political scene and the workplace,” it warns.

So if you are in a toxic workplace – or are thinking of moving jobs – avoid the over-confident leader particularly if they do not like being challenged (which they will see as a threat). They could be running the organisation into the ground.

Other tell-tale signs are a “lack of warmth” (although they might be charismatic, they may have followers rather than friends).

If you are Forced to Agree with Everything they Say, Walk Away

Narcissists have positive and inflated views of themselves and this can become a problem when they “maintain these views despite contrary evidence, and often at the expense of others”.

While you may be tempted to argue your points, present all the facts and enlist the support of others to make your case, this is not going to work with a narcissist, because they are always right.

If you are in an interview and feel your thoughts are dismissed, perhaps this is not a good boss to work for.

They will Blame You (Not Themselves) – So Avoid Them

“Leaders sometimes think there’s a problem with their team, when in fact it is the leader who is the real issue”, warns Myers-Briggs. There is evidence that individuals who are more narcissistic are not only more likely to become leaders, but they are also more likely to perform less effectively in this role than others.

So, while it might be frustrating to work for someone who always knows better, the narcissistic trait that can be most damaging is that you will find that everyone else – including you – is to blame when things go wrong. You could miss out on a promotion or worse, get fired, or be forced to leave with a bad reference, because the person you work for cannot admit to making any mistakes.

Lack of Diversity is a Red Flag – So Look Around

Additional research from The Myers-Briggs Company on narcissism and leadership has demonstrated that this kind of behaviour can lead to women being less likely to seek out leadership roles, even when they are as well or better qualified than men.

So, if the you are looking for a new job avoid the organisations that look stale/male/pale.

Will you be Heard? Group-Think is Another Killer

Narcissism is the rejection of others’ input. Along with overconfidence, this can lead to ‘group think’, where in the rush to make decisions, information that is inconvenient to the story constructed by the leader is ignored.

Myers-Briggs research also demonstrates that overconfident and dominant leaders can actively inhibit the exchange of information between members of a group, worsening the negative effects of this group think. 

So not only will your voice not be heard, you could be working for an organisation that is heading for failure.

Those Who Admit to Weaknesses Are the Strong

So what makes a good leader?

Well a boss who can admit to having a few weaknesses is going to be more self-aware. As a result, he or she will be better able to build teams that help address their shortcomings. What is needed in a successful organisation, is a good mix of different skills and personalities.

A good leader, will also create a culture and systems that inspire the people around them, so do not just look at the boss’s qualities, see who they surround themselves with and how varied and valued they are.

How to Deal with a Narcissist

The first thing is to not blindly follow them. Focus on facts that you can verify and not their opinions.

Work on building your network. The future is a “wirearchy” people whose power and influence is based on connectedness and the flow of information rather than a power base. This can help insulate and protect you.

John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, says it is also important to build self-awareness. “By becoming more aware of their personality and biases, individuals can make more informed decisions, helping them to overcome the pressure to follow ‘group think’ and narcissistic leaders,” he says.

At the same time, avoid challenging a narcissist (remember they are always right) or angering them by undermining them (they rely on a power base, so avoid office gossip in case it gets back to them).

Treat them in the way they would expect: listen, agree, respect them, follow their instructions etc… and accept responsibility/blame for any failings (even if they are hers/his).

Then, try to make a quiet exit. If a narcissist gets wind that you are looking for another job, they will see this as a betrayal. So play your cards close to your chest and when you resign make sure your letter is full of flattery about how much you have learned from your boss and how inspirational he/she has been.