Tag Archives: leadership

In Search of Influence – What the Literature Says

Searching for the true meaning of influence, and how procurement professionals can, and need to, become better doing it. Article by Gordon Donovan.

I have recently completed my masters, and my dissertation looked at influencing within procurement and how to develop these skills.

This article looks at the published literature around influencing. The next article will review the opinions of top influencers and consider what their key traits are, and how these skills can be developed.

Much has been written about the need for the professional skill sets required by procurement professionals to change. According to CIPS over the last 5 years, the skills required have changed as the table below: [i]

Skills Table - GD

For Procurement to achieve its goals, more work needs to be done to align to key stakeholders and understand the business operations, in order to become a true strategic partner.

This means moving up the value chain to ensure that the function is involved much earlier in the decision-making processes and clearly demonstrating how active involvement adds tangible value to both the bottom and the top lines.

In order to do this, Procurement as a function needs to expand its ability to influence, and procurement practitioners need to expand their own personal influencing skills (along with other soft skills).

So what do we mean by influencing and what are the different ways we can influence?

What is Influence?

Influencing skills, have been defined as the ability to get people to do what you want[ii], or changing people’s behaviour to act in your favour through the use of persuasion[iii], or wielding effective tactics of persuasion[iv].

How can we Influence

We all have differing influencing styles which generally will fall into any of the following:

  • Asserting – where you insist on your ideas being heard, and you challenge the ideas of others.
  • Convincing – where you put forward ideas and offer logical reasoning, which convinces others of your point of view.
  • Negotiating – where you look for compromises and make concessions, in order that you can reach an outcome that satisfies your greater interest.
  • Bridging – where you build relationships and connect with others, using listening and understanding to build coalitions.
  • Inspiring – where you advocate a position and then encourages others to come round to the idea by sharing a sense of purpose.

Dale Carnegie[v] wrote, that in order to become effective influencers, we need to influence people at an individual level. He also argued that the steps for effective influencing are:

  • If you want to make a good first impression, smile.
  • If you want others to like you, don’t criticise them.
  • If you want others to gladly do you favours, show your appreciation frequently.
  • If you want to be interesting yourself, be interested in others.
  • Show your appreciation for others by talking about what’s important to them.
  • We like people who show their appreciation and remember things about us, like our names.
  • Avoid all arguments – they cannot be won.
  • Never tell others they are wrong, they will only resent you.
  • Whenever you are wrong, admit it immediately and clearly.
  • To be convincing, get others to say “yes” as often as possible.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the capacity of people’s ability to recognise their own, and to understand and recognise others’, emotions, and use that information to guide behaviour and therefore influence.

Daniel Goleman argues that just having one persuasion skill alone, and deploying just one, may not be good enough to gain influence. He argues that being influential is having the ability to sense what other kinds of appeals will persuade key decision makers.

Critically, Goleman argues, it is noticing when one tactic isn’t working and when to switch to a different one which adds impact to an individual.

So what are the persuasion skills?

Persuasion

Manningham and Robertson[vi] identified 6 persuasion strategies from their research:

  • Reason – the use of logic or facts to justify a request
  • Assertion – making a direct request and using emotion to underline our need
  • Exchange – the trading of one thing for another
  • Courting favour – being friendly or positive with people
  • Coercion – the implication of negative outcomes on not agreeing
  • Partnership – gaining the support of people both within and outside the organisation.

In developing this research on persuasion tools, Reynolds developed the Persuasion Tools Model[vii], based on work by the psychologist Kenneth Berrien. It links negotiation and persuasion style, to emotional intelligence (EI), and in some ways echoes the work of Manning and Robertson

The Persuasion Tools Model
The Persuasion Tools Model

In this model, the horizontal axis represents influencing, which Reynolds states is a measure of your overall persuasion capability. The vertical axis represents the level of intuition required.

Summary

Two main thoughts are drawn from this research:

  1. That deploying one persuasion tactic as part of a plan is not enough; and
  2. Influencing, when it happens, happens with one person at a time.

In the next article, we will identify the traits of top influencers and how we may develop these skills.

[i] CIPS (2015) Advanced Diploma in Procurement and Supply; Chapter 4 Skills for Category Management

[ii] Mullins, L. (1996). Management and organization. 4th ed.  Pitman

[iii] Manning T; Robertson B; (2003),”Influencing and negotiating skills: Part I: influencing strategies and styles”, Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 35 Iss 1 pp. 11 – 15;

[iv] Goleman D (1998) Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ; Bloomsbury Publishing

[v] Carnegie D; (1937) How to win friends and influence people: Simon and Schuster

[vi] Manning T; Robertson B; (2003),”Influencing and negotiating skills; Part II: influencing styles and negotiating skills”, Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 35 Iss 2 pp. 60 – 66;

[vii] Reynolds, A. (2003) ‘Emotional Intelligence and Negotiation,’ Hampshire: Tommo Press

ANZAC Soldiers in WWI – What Supply Chain Leaders Can Learn

How did John Monash, a Jewish son of German immigrants, become one of the greatest leaders of ANZAC forces during the First World War? And what’s its relevance to Supply Chain leaders?

Recently I finished listening to Roland Perry’s audio book on ‘Monash: The outsider who won a war’, and found it a fascinating insight into early Australian military and social history.

And it got me thinking about what it was that meant that modern day universities, freeways, suburbs, scholarship funds and monuments were dedicated to and named for John Monash.

He became very famous, and if the King of England wanted to be his mate, then there must have been something special about this West Melbourne-born bloke!

You could say that Monash was pretty smart – a civil engineer, lawyer, business and artillery officer by training and profession. These skills saw him eventually become the Commander of the Australian Corps, which, at the time, was the largest individual corps on the Western Front.

Technologically Savvy

Like great supply chain leaders today, Monash was fascinated with technology, and what it could potentially do to meet his objectives. The Tank intrigued Monash and, along with the machine gun, he used it as a new and powerful offensive weapon.

Monash, like a smart manager today, encouraged his subordinates to come up with innovative ideas. One of them was a smoke canister that could be fired from artillery, providing screening for advancing troops.

He even used his legal training and knowledge of legal patents to help that soldier get that invention patented!

Health, Welfare, Blood and Guts!

Monash recorded in his diaries seeing and hearing the agonising cries and moans of injured soldiers left for dead after many of the battles at Gallipoli. It was this that led him to demand the urgent need for post combat repatriation and emergency medical treatment.

He also strongly advocated for more nursing services for recovering soldiers, which would have been a tough gig in those days.

Nothing demoralises an Army more than poor trauma health care, and Monash realised this. And any HR professional working in the supply chain knows that Health and Welfare programs work!

Leading his People

Monash’s leadership skills were second to none, especially when it came to his troops. He valued them. He wanted them alive.

He didn’t want to waste them as dispensable shock troops, as some suggest the British Commanders used ANZAC troops as, and like the movie Gallipoli portrayed them.

He went out of his way so that his troops would be given public recognition for their wins, sacrifices and heroic deeds, as censorship, particularly in newspapers, was suffocating at that time.

And what employee doesn’t crave a manger’s public recognition for a job well done? Monash understood implicitly the positive psychological effects of this.

Planning, Forecasting and Communicating

Monash as civil engineer understood the importance of intact supply chains and the logistics of moving people.

This expertise proved invaluable on the Western front. Time spent rebuilding destroyed road and rail networks, and town infrastructures, enabled the carrying of much needed supplies and reinforcements where and when he needed them.

Monash was a meticulous planner. He used all available topographical maps, often venturing into the field to survey objectives, so his soldiers could use existing terrain to their advantage and safety.

Planning skills and forecasting are nothing new to supply chain leaders, and it’s especially effective when you let your “troops” know what’s expected and up ahead.

People, Procurement and Negotiating

One of the most important tools in the arsenal for supply chain leaders, and what Monash was exceptional at, was the ability to negotiate, schmooze and defer when necessary to his superiors and reports. Or win them over with a confident well planned strategy.

Personal Fortitude, Self-development and “sucking that gut in”.

Monash, like any great leader, didn’t magically acquire “grit” or fortitude. He worked on himself both physically and mentally.

He read. He studied those around him. He picked himself up after failures and setbacks. And he was able to overcome racial slurs and innuendos, about his religious and cultural roots used by his opponents and detractors. At one stage even the Australian prime minister had it in for him!

When John Monash died in 1931 approximately 300,000 mourners turned out to pay their respects. Given the small size of Melbourne at that time, it showed how revered this great man was.

Monash - supply chain leaders
Australian Stamp Celebrating Sir John Monash

So whilst today’s supply chain leaders may not be involved in terrible international conflicts, some of the aptitudes and skills that a great Australia demonstrated over his lifetime, could be inspiring.

You can catch up with more leadership and life and style thinking at www.productiveminds.com.au.