Tag Archives: supernormal

How to Be Super Normal: 5 Must-Have Traits to Get Ahead in 2021

What does it take to be Super Normal? Here are the 5 must-have traits to get ahead in 2021 without driving yourself crazy.


There’s no turning back. There’s only the here and now. And whatever you call it – the new normal, now normal, the end of the world, or as we’re labeling it, the Super Normal – it no longer matters. What matters is how you adapt, move forward and make a difference.

There’s a lot of difference-making that still needs to happen. Procurement and supply chain must lead the way, just as we’ve done in the past. According to McKinsey, “in the five years immediately following the 2008 financial crisis, total return to shareholders for companies with top-quartile procurement capabilities was 42% higher than for companies whose procurement operations were in the bottom quartile.”

That’s a significant impact. Clearly, we have what it takes to succeed. But this is not the same environment as the global financial crisis. The game has fundamentally changed and we need a new playbook to win, manage stress and get ahead.

The Super Normal: Start by Owning Your Vulnerability  

Resilience is core to the Super Normal. We’ve been talking about it since March, which begs a deep discussion: What actually makes us resilient?

It has nothing to do with our age, gender, ethnicity or nationality. Instead, according to a Harvard Business Review study, there are two driving factors. The first is exposure. The more exposed you are to the suffering or event, the higher your resilience levels are. As HBR puts it, “this strongly suggests that we discover our resilience only when we are forced to meet unavoidable suffering full in the face. It’s when we face that reality, and see ourselves and how we respond to it, that we find the basis for resilience.”

The second factor is the extent of the threat. The more tangible, the more resilient we become.

An HBR survey asked how many people had experienced workforce changes as a result of COVID-19. There were 11 possible changes to select, such as sheltering in place, layoffs and furloughs, and changing use of technology. Ninety-six percent of respondents globally said they’d experienced at least one issue. This is similar to our business study, which found that 97% of organisations experienced a supply chain disruption related to COVID-19.

This isn’t surprising – so why does it matter? Because as leaders, we need to own our vulnerabilities. Our Super Normal requires us to be open, transparent and direct. You can’t force a return to normal just to calm anxiety and stress. We have all suffered to some extent and glossing over the potential implications – whether it be layoffs, longer work hours, hard conversations with suppliers and customers, a demand for new skills, or changes at home – is counter-intuitive.

Instead, own the vulnerability, be clear about your team’s exposure and communicate what needs to change. When people understand what’s at stake, they are remarkably resilient.

The Super Normal Playbook: Heart, Brain and Vision

Resilience amidst chaos requires evolution. We need to change and adapt, even if we don’t know what the future holds. While there’s no easy button or universal blueprint, we’ve learned a lot in 2020 about how to be Super Normal.  

1.       Super Normal Professionals Think the Unthinkable

If we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that anything can happen. Pandemic, trade wars, recessions, natural disasters… the list goes on.

Being Super Normal requires us to come to terms with an inherent truth: Uncertainty is certain.

We need to engrain this mindset into our team, decisions and actions. Once we see that the big picture is cloudy and unpredictable, we can better prepare ourselves for success, and quickly overcome the shock factor when everything abruptly changes. Being ready for sudden change – and having a plan of action – puts you ahead of nearly everyone. 

2.       Super Normal Professional See Limitless Opportunity

Don’t let the state of our world get you down. Instead, get up, make a plan and get going. Be positive.

Changemakers see opportunity in crisis. They understand that the dynamics have completely changed, and there are limitless opportunities to improve your reputation, get noticed, move up and make an impact.

We know that procurement and supply chain operations are intrinsically linked to organisational survival and success. Whether you are at the beginning of your career or leading operations for a Fortune 100, there’s a greenfield opportunity in front of you. Thriving in the Super Normal requires you to see it and take advantage.

3.       Super Normal Professionals Invest in Themselves

Warren Buffet put it best. “By far the best investment you can make is in yourself.” 

This advice isn’t relatively new or unique, but it’s a game-changer for those that take advantage. What skills do you need to thrive in our Super Normal? What about the Next Normal? How will your day-to-day job change in the next 5 years?

Our recent survey found that the majority of organisations (93%) are investing big to propel procurement forward. The top three investments they are making in procurement are in data and analytics, talent development and technology.

Soft skills matter as well. According to LinkedIn, the top five most in-demand skills in 2020 are “creativity, collaboration, persuasion, adaptability, and emotional intelligence—all skills that demonstrate how we work with others and bring new ideas to the table.” 

If your organisation isn’t providing the necessary training or experience you need, make the time to get it yourself. The pandemic has accelerated the global tech transformation and heightened the need for modern skills, expertise and experiences, like analytics, digitisation, emerging technology, emotional intelligence and leadership. Super Normal leaders see where the world is going and stay ahead of the transformation by investing in themselves and their teams. 

4.       Supper Normal Leaders See the Big Picture and Know How to Focus

Where is your organisation going and what does it need right now? Super Normal leaders are always in the know, and when they aren’t, they are confident and proactive enough to request an immediate alignment meeting with leadership.

We only have so much time and resources and need to spend them where it counts. Today, for most procurement and supply chain teams, that means cost savings, supply chain risk and business continuity. But your actual goals and priorities may be different and could change suddenly. Going above and beyond your day-to-day supply chain and procurement operations to stay fresh on the strategic priorities of your organisation is paramount to success. Similarly, bringing modern and fresh thinking to the table that breaks through traditional results and delivers compounding value on key projects, like cost containment and savings, will make C-suite stop and take notice. 

5.       Super Normal Leaders Have a Heart

They put people first – and recognise that success starts with teamwork and human connection. They recognise that vulnerability – financial, mental, physical and social – is very real, and that people need time, space and support during difficult times. They know that talent wins 100% of the time.

While putting people first may sound simple, that’s not always the case, especially amidst the chaotic nature of our world today. Super Normal leaders are intentional about it every single day, with their decisions, actions, engagements and relationships. People are core to what they do – and why they succeed. 

You Have What It Takes: Embrace the Super Normal 

Life is chaotic and stressful. And you have everything you need to be successful now and in the future. Everyone’s Super Normal will look a little different – but if we continue to learn from each other, share our successes and look ahead, we’ll all be more than alright.

And finally, wherever this Super Normal takes us, always remember to make time for yourself and your family. Find something you love and embrace it. We are all tired, stressed and anxious. Happiness helps solve all three. If you are looking for more inspiration, check out what your peers say it means to be Super Normal.

Top Tips For Business Travel During COVID And Beyond

Business travel will become popular again, and when it does, it might look unrecognisable. Here’s how tech is changing travel.


Do you miss business travel?

The thrill of meeting new customers. The networking opportunities. Or even the simple joy of sipping coffee while watching planes take off.

Or maybe you don’t miss it at all.

The constant time zone changes. Missing family events. The tedious routine of airports and convention centres.

Let’s face it, pre-COVID we all travelled A LOT (maybe too much?).

Almost a third of European corporate travellers flew once a month. And Americans logged more than 400 million business trips each year (Statista). 

Procurement and supply chain professionals were no strangers to the ‘road warrior’ lifestyle.


Wendy Clack is at the forefront of COVID travel safety technologies.


After all, how many other industries have internal stakeholders and suppliers to visit in literally every part of the globe?

The world may have abandoned business travel for now, but it won’t be long until we take to the skies again.

In fact, one firm predicts we’ll hit 60%-70% of typical volumes next year, with a return to pre-pandemic passenger numbers by 2022.  

But this supernormal world will look quite different to the one we knew.

You may soon check into your flight with eye movement, use your phone as your hotel room key, and keep your passport tattooed on your arm.

Here’s what you can expect, and what comes next.

What measures are the travel industry taking?

Cleanliness and safety are the top priorities for airlines now, with luxury amenities taking a backseat.

At the airport

Touch-free and healthy are the buzzwords in this new world of air travel.

Many countries now require proof you’ve tested negative for the Coronavirus within 48 hours of when you travel.

Some airports offer testing onsite with results in a couple of hours. This includes Frankfurt Airport, which plans to integrate your results with your Lufthansa boarding pass.

Lufthansa’s Björn Becker told the Financial Times airport testing gives passengers, “a comfortable opportunity to test themselves for flights abroad or a stay in Germany, to avoid quarantine.”

And Abu Dhabi airport is trialling a sterilisation chamber that looks a whole lot like a spray-on tanning booth. It takes just three seconds to sanitise.

Etihad airlines has touch free check-in kiosks that let you select different options using your eye movements.

That same kiosk is loaded with sensors that can take your temperature and measure your heart rate.

 And you’ll also notice thermal cameras around with built-in facial recognition, like the ones Heathrow Airport are trialling.

These track body temperature to detect if someone has a fever.

Most airlines are encouraging passengers to check in using the airline’s app, and choose the self-service bag drop.

But in the rare instance you actually need assistance from a human, you’ll likely find them behind thick plexiglass.

On your flight

Again, procedures vary by airline. But you can be confident planes are getting a deep-clean between flights.  

Most of the flagship carriers are using measures like electrostatic spraying, which is a hospital-grade disinfectant.

Another tool that destroys germs is UVC light.

Companies like Honeywell offer aeroplane UVC light systems, which can sanitise an entire cabin in minutes.

Airlines are using any measures they can to limit human interaction. So if you’re wondering where your in-flight magazine has gone, you’ll find it online.

When you land

When you reach your destination, you may need to show proof you’ve recently tested negative for the Coronavirus.

And you’ll need to fill out forms if you’re required to quarantine.

Some countries may even require you to download a contact tracing app for the duration of your stay.

When you get to your hotel, you can expect a slightly different welcoming.

You may be asked to have your temperature taken on arrival.

And don’t expect a face-to-face greeting by the front desk. Many of the business hotel giants like Hilton and Marriott now ask you to check in via an app where you’ll receive a digital room key.

Rooms are deep-cleaned as standard, and many hotels use some type of seal on the door so you know it hasn’t been entered since cleaning.

When you’re ready to check out, simply use the app and be on your way.

What measures can you take to stay safe?

The best ways to protect yourself are obvious: wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitiser, keep a safe distance from others, and wear a mask.

More airlines are requiring masks to be kept on the entire flight.

But if you really want to make a statement on your next business trip, you might want an LED mask.

The Lumen Couture LED Matrix Light Up Face Mask lets you enter any message you want into an app, and it appears on the mask.

And you’ve heard that your phone is one of the dirtiest surfaces you encounter, right?

So why not bring along the PhoneSoap, a little box that uses UV light to disinfect your smartphone.

While it’s disinfecting your phone, it can also charge it.

You might also be interested in a no-touch door opener, like the KeySmart Clean Key.

It lets you avoid direct contact with doorknobs and elevator buttons. Plus, it comes with a retractable carabiner to clip onto your belt loop, so you can keep it close.

In a less high-tech move, many of the big airlines offer personal sanitary kits with disinfectant wipes for your piece of mind.

What does the future of business travel look like?

It’s impossible to say what procedures will stick around once the initial pandemic is over.

But the emphasis on healthy and touchless travel is here to stay.    

In fact, we’re quickly moving to a world where your face and body will be your passport, according to the World Economic Forum.

“More touchless options will come into play including contactless fingerprint, as well as iris and face recognition,” says the organisation.

And once a vaccination is available for COVID-19, you’ll be expected to carry proof of immunisation.

How? One solution could be an invisible arm tattoo that contains your health records. They are accessed by a simple infrared scanner.

This technology already exists, so it could just be a matter of time until it goes mainstream.

Bottom line

If you’re tense at the thought of a world where you need your own door-opening tool, take heart. You may not travel as often as you think.

Many industry experts are predicting a more thoughtful approach to business travel going forward.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian thinks the number of trips the typical road warrior takes will go down.

“The international trips that we’ve all been on where we’ve flown over to Europe for a two-hour meeting and flown back…does nothing but beat you up, and you’d certainly be much better accommodated over a video call,” Bastian said.

“But it’s going to be trips that are focused on relationship building or interacting – whether it’s with your customers, conventions, new contacts, reviewing performance on a global scale – those are going to stay.”

How To Be A Supernormal Leader

Collaboration is imperative for your organisation to progress! And it can be achieved through “silo busting” (encouraging inter-departmental sharing of knowledge), building and valuing trust, attenuating body language to communicate openness, promoting diversity, cultivating self-awareness and fostering empathy, and creating a safe environment for sharing ideas and practices.


Collaboration is more important than ever before. In fact, an organisation’s survival may depend on how well it can combine the potential of its people as well as its suppliers. By connecting the external market with their own organisation and its customers, Procurement has the opportunity to facilitate and deliver significant shared value. Collaboration matters like never before.

I’ve read many surveys on leadership and collaboration, particularly of recency. Deloitte’s Future of Work research found that 65% of the C-Level executives surveyed have a strategic objective to transform their organisation’s culture, with a focus on connectivity, communication and collaboration.

When one gets underneath the surface of these surveys, six crucial leadership behavioural themes leap out. I’m referring to leadership at all levels, call it strategic leadership if you so choose. Whether you’re the Chief Procurement Officer, the Head of Category Management or the Buyer, when you think about building and embracing a collaborative culture, you already realise that your job has changed. I really don’t think and hope you’ll ever look back. So, this is absolutely not about old-school leadership and hierarchical thinking. This is also not a new leadership philosophy. This is about embracing the fact that we are better together. A single, collaborative eco-system. To make the impact required and to inspire others, requires collaborative leadership. It’s about self-awareness and its about emotional intelligence too.

Here are the six leadership behaviours:

1. Silo ‘busting’

I really struggle with the word ‘silo’. It is why wastebaskets were created. Silo’s are sizeable organisational blockers, built to last by those whom create them. The collaborative environment we seek is kept from forming. The creativity, innovation and growth potential is essentially being silo distanced. ‘Silo’ is a term that has been passed around and discussed in boardrooms for at least 30 years. They remain a growing pain in the organisational backside.

Silo mentality describes the mindset present when departments don’t share information. Wherever it’s spotted, silo mentality becomes synonymous with power struggles and fear of exposure or failure. Silo mentality cause organisations to waste time, resources and money. They wreck collaboration.

Silos get busted by leaders, not by technology or processes. Procurement has privileged access to typically all parts of an organisation and its supplier base too. Get on the front foot and create unifying goals and objectives. Build ‘silo-busting’ into your balance scorecard and set the pace for collaboration, both internally and externally.

2. Trust matters

A collaborative team isn’t a group of people working together. It’s a group of people working together who trust each other. They also understand their own and each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Trust is the key binding agent for collaboration. It is where procurement and the supplier base can also unite, like never before.

As a leader, you need people to trust you. But how do you show that you trust them? The way sharing of information is communicated determines whether it becomes an obstacle to or an enabler of collaboration. Perhaps a cynical view, though some leaders I have observed who profess to value collaboration, undermine their effectiveness by withholding information or sharing it on a ‘needs to know’ basis. This makes them feel important.

Leaders build trust through honest, consistent and transparent communication – easy to say, often trickier in reality than it sounds. Procurement leaders take note. Put the ego to one side and build trust with your colleagues, customers and suppliers. It’s hard work and unanswerably essential to achieve true collaboration leadership. What one finds is that when you take the time to get to know your colleagues and suppliers, trust builds faster. Embrace all feedback, not just positive, and always have your learning and listening chips switched on. Build joint goals. Create the time to celebrate successes. Adapt, learn and grow, together.

3. Body language tells its own story

Negotiators are taught how to assess body language. Not just negotiators I hasten to add. In its most simplistic form, there are two sets of body language. One set that projects sincerity, authenticity and warmth. The other send signals of status and influence. For collaboration to flourish, focus your energy on the former. Authenticity is key. Be yourself.

4. Promoting diversity

Diverse thinking is an essential ingredient for collaborative leadership. It reinforces my point about leadership at al levels. Team members at the same level, and with a similar background, are found to perform worse than those with varying skills and knowledge. There’s a tendency for similarly minded individuals at the same level in an organisation to seek affirmation from one another i.e. they tend to reinforce each others predisposition. Innovation is triggered by cross-functional working. Creative breakthroughs occur most often when ideas collide and then combine. Collaboration enables innovation.

5. Self-awareness

Development Dimensions International (DDI) has studied leadership for almost fifty years. In their latest research, with over 15,000 leaders from more than 300 organisations, DDI looked at leaders’ conversational skills that had the highest impact on overall performance. At the very top of the list was empathy – specifically, the ability to listen and respond empathetically. Learn to understand before be understood. So, for great collaborative leadership, if you recognise this as a development need, then work hard on developing it.

6. Primal instincts

Human beings have two primitive instincts that guide a willingness to collaborate — or not — and they are triggered under very different circumstance. The first instinct is to hoard and has been traced back to early humans hoarding vital supplies, like food, out of fear of not having enough. The more they put away, the safer they felt. We’ve all observed this instinct and many experienced it of recency. In the workplace, when people feel ignored or threatened, they retreat and hold on to knowledge. The second instinct, on the other hand, is that humans are also a learning, teaching, knowledge-sharing species. According to evolutional psychologists, this trait is also hard-wired, linking back to when humans first started gathering in clans. Leaders trigger the ‘sharing instinct’ when they create psychologically safe workplace environments in which people feel secure, valued and trusted.

In a world of arguably unprecedented uncertainty and disruption, collaborative leadership behaviours are so important to organisation survival, recovery and growth. Collaboration as a skill set is no longer a ‘nice to have’. There are tools and techniques to help develop your collaborative skill set further, whether you are a buyer or seller. Successful supplier and procurement collaboration will make a transformational difference.

This article was originally published by Procurement Potential on July 12 2020 and is republished here with permission.