“Fake it ‘til you make it.” This unattributed idiom (with a nod to Aristotle) is oft-used advice to people early in their careers. But how wise is it to follow? How many people have résumés that truly portray their strengths vs. a laundry list of what they want you to believe about their abilities? How confident would any shareholder be if they believed the CEO got to the top by faking their skills rather than building them? But more importantly, is it a person’s skills that give you confidence in their leadership abilities?
If you think about the last person who truly inspired you, was it their title…or the last three companies where they worked that piqued your interest? Was it their ability to run a shareholders’ meeting, analyze volumes of data and manage their exceedingly crowded schedule that excited you? Doubt it. When you think of someone who is truly motivational, you are usually moved by the things that don’t make it on to the résumé: their heart, integrity, authenticity and ability to enroll others in their beliefs and passions. It’s not because of their title.
It’s About Mindset
Too often, CEOs have the mindset that what has gotten them here will get them there. If they have successfully led profitable companies, why would they have any reason to believe they need to evolve? When things aren’t working, it doesn’t take much convincing that something has to change. But when they are…CEOs often don’t understand the need. They have the pedigree and the track record – and past accomplishments are a good indicator of future success – so why fix what isn’t broken?
Ever heard of a thing called inertia? Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion, or the tendency to do nothing. In business speak, this phenomenon is often characterized as analysis paralysis. In a corporate world of business cases, business plans, strategic roadmaps and the push to constantly sell, align and achieve, it’s no wonder procurement leaders are drowning in what needs to be done, but struggle to scratch the surface. How can it be that a top procurement leader whose very career path has been the result of their outstanding productivity and accolades suddenly faces a precipice of declining performance and the disastrous stagnation of innovation? Simple. Because their knowledge impedes creativity, causing inertia.
Procurement leaders who have spent the entirety of their career in one industry, one company, or one function, namely procurement, subconsciously experience limiting beliefs—and by limiting I mean success-hindering, momentum-killing beliefs—about themselves and the procurement function. Without ever intending it, procurement leaders often poison their potential by allowing their knowledge and experience to cloud their creativity and vision of what they can imagine going forward. They often resist any change to the current state of operations because they are so focused on delivering in the here and now. Even if they manage to recall their vision for a world-class procurement organization, the age-old question emerges: where do I even begin? The path of least resistance is to simply do nothing, to change nothing; the alternative could lead to failure. To these skeptics wary of innovative change, I’d like to pose the question: isn’t the very act of doing still far more productive than the act of thinking or talking about doing something, regardless of the outcome?