If there’s anything that worries procurement employees the most, it could very well be a leadership transition.

When a new procurement leader – CPO, VP of Procurement, Purchasing Director, Supply Chain Manager, etc. – comes on board, the uncertainty that fills the air causes anxiety among a procurement staff.  And anxiety is never cited as a key to world-class procurement performance.  In fact, it can lead to reduced productivity, poor performance and even critical mistakes.

A leader’s job is to lead a staff to good performance.  So, allowing anxiety to exist is not something good leaders do.

But, not all newly appointed leaders are good leaders.  Some people think that, to be a good leader, they have to have an overpowering personality.  That they need to start making changes on Day One.  That they need to “show ’em who’s boss.”  They make transitions feel like tornadoes, replete with fear, chaos and destruction.

But, that’s an amateur approach.  And it can result in a failed leadership transition.

You know the old saying “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression?”  Well, a leadership transition is a one-time, delicate event.  If you mess it up, there are no re-do’s.

Therefore, the first task involved in a leadership transition is to eliminate the invariable anxiety.  To appeal to the team in a way that motivates them to follow your lead.

A friend of mine used to always say, “If you think you’re leading and no one’s following, you’re not leading – you’re just taking a walk.”  So, you need to inspire the people you need to follow you for your success, for their success, and for the organization’s success.

Instead of your transition to leadership feeling like a tornado, you should try to make it feel like a sunrise.

Think of the vibes related to a sunrise:

  • A welcome change
  • Inspiring
  • Hopeful
  • An opportunity for a new beginning
  • A sign that great things are ahead
  • A symbol that much can be accomplished with the time ahead

Those are the vibes that your leadership transition needs to create!

So, if you’re tempted to take the tornado approach to a leadership transition – stop!  Remember, ANYONE can be a jerk.  It’s easy.  It doesn’t require talent.  And it usually doesn’t result in a successful leadership transition.

Making your leadership transition like a sunrise does take talent.  And, if you’re going to be a leader, you should have talent, right?

If you don’t have the talent to make a transition to your leadership like a sunrise, then you probably shouldn’t be in or pursuing a leadership position.  But if you can make a transition to your leadership like a sunrise, you will have completed the first step in becoming a truly great leader.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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