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In this, the fourth in a series of guest posts for Procurement Leaders from Giles Breault and Sammy Rashed of The Beyond Group, we investigate the idea of presenting and promoting procurement and senior procurement roles as a career path and tackle the issue of standing out from the crowd.
This is our fourth blog in this series describing our pragmatic road to intrapreneurialism. Nearly every senior procurement team we interact with asks the question: “How can I get my team to act more independently, more creatively and operate like mini-entrepreneurs, but still respect the framework and boundaries we have as a company?” In this series we hope to shed a little light on that topic by sharing our own experiences, and combining it with the knowledge of others and the experiences from our readers, whom we hope will share their own know-how.
In our first three blogs we set the stage for what it takes to trigger the spark of intrapreneurialism and then described how similar that journey is to the path that entrepreneurs follow. In this post we discuss one of the fundamental building blocks for an individual (or team) who has the ultimate goal of standing out from the crowd and representing something worth putting your name to: Branding.
We all have professional roles: CPO, head of category management, VP supply chain, and so on. Yet, very often these titles end up defining us as individuals and not distinguishing us versus many others that might hold similar jobs. We were with a coaching client a few days ago, someone who was actively seeking to re-brand himself as a future thinker and procurement thought leader. He proudly showed us his CV, described his professional history and recounted his capabilities. But at this point we challenged him and asked how many people in his own region did he think had the exact same title as his (Head of Procurement). He hesitated for a bit and then said “well just in my immediate city there would have to be dozens of people with the same title; perhaps hundreds and if you were to consider the whole region then there would be many, many more.”
“And how many do you think have similar CVs and professional histories?” we asked. He got the point. “Probably most,” he answered, somewhat dejectedly. Lastly, we asked “What have you done to distinguish yourself from a crowd of hundreds of people that are just as bright, just as competent, come from the same highly valued schools and have similar titles?” We knew the answer, but that wasn't the point. The point was that for each of us (the same holds true for teams), our roles do not lend themselves towards differentiation and distinguishment.
We believe branding starts with two key elements: firstly, discovering your passion; your professional raison d'être and secondly, the ability to look at yourself (or your team) as a self-contained entity, with its own products, value propositions, clients and potential customers. Knowing these two things is the foundation of your brand. Being an intrapreneur requires this kind of thinking.
Once you have these two elements in hand, we like Dorie Clark's (author of Stand Out) approach to seeking, developing and disseminating your unique idea that places you and your team apart from others. Another thought leader who influenced us in this area is Gabbi Cahane, the founder of several companies that focus on creating great brands. A few years ago Gabi delivered a compelling workshop at our Procurement Think Tank using his unique approach that combines Purpose + Positioning + Personality to develop a unique brand for any function or individual.
We have developed over time what we think are the essential criteria that underlies a great brand. Make sure that these five things are right, and you will have the essence of your brand and the value that others get from what you have to offer.
The essence of intrapreneurship is a team's ability to self-organise and operate as though it is its own company within a company. This process can only be realized if that organisation has a clear understanding of what it stands for and how it wants to be recognized for its contribution. Developing a brand is a first step in building how the rest of the organisation will perceive the contribution. Join us for our next blog in this series that will deal with creating the context for action.
Giles is executive coach & advisor to innovative companies, executives and individuals providing leadership, knowledge, and experience across a spectrum of business activities including; global procurement function leadership, productivity, and business services.
Sammy Rashed is a career-long intrapreneur who created every one of his roles over 25 years experience, ultimately making the leap to become an entrepreneur. He now focuses on his productivity advisor, procurement strategist, and developer of future leaders roles.
This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.