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Five skills of strategic procurement leaders

By Scott Dance, Director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain

It is an exciting time to be working in the procurement profession. The importance of procurement continues to go from strength to strength, and an increasing number of organisations are making the move from a tactical to a strategic procurement function.

It is therefore not surprising that ambitious employees are looking to their next career move. The CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2017 shows that 71% of professionals want to move to a more senior position in the next two years. However, with competition for talent fierce, and the function undergoing rapid evolution, organisations need to ensure their most senior procurement staff are up to the challenge.

Here are the five essential skills which separate a good procurement executive from a great strategic leader.

1. Communication

83% of employers surveyed for the CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2017 said that communication and soft skills were their top rated requirement from a senior professional. This may seem surprising, but it’s necessary for the smooth operation of a procurement function. A strategic leader must be able to communicate their processes and objectives to key stakeholders and the wider team as a whole to ensure success.

2. Influencing

Influencing skills are a must for any advanced professional with managerial responsibilities. The ability to persuade and encourage others, as well as influence other stakeholders and members of staff, is vital for a strategic leader, and helps the entire procurement function work towards the same goals.

3. Relationship management

Important for all procurement professionals but particularly so at more senior levels. Advanced professionals should lead by example and demonstrate how to keep key suppliers happy over an extended relationship, yielding the best possible prices and value add for their organisation.

4. Change management

Strategic sourcing, change and transformation projects are taking place across all sectors, and as a result, change management skills are high in demand for senior staff. The proper application of teams and resources can mean the difference between success and failure, so talent in this area is essential.

5. Negotiation

Linked to influencing skills, being able to discover and articulate the best solution to a challenge is a very important skill to have as a senior leader. A negotiation that goes well is one where all parties are satisfied with the outcome, so keen negotiation skills are often essential to develop long-running relationships with key suppliers as well as senior business stakeholders.

These are some of the top skills required to be a successful leader, and are key signposts to look out for if you are hoping to recruit a talented procurement professional into a senior role. Likewise, these are skills you should develop as a professional to not only progress your career, but also ensure a smooth and efficient procurement function that delivers value.

For more insights into skills in demand, and information on salaries in your area, request your copy of the CIPS/Hays Procurement Salary Guide and Insights 2017 or visit your nearest office to find your local Hays consultant.

About this author

Scott joined Hays in 2002 as a Trainee Consultant, and is now Director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain. With over 15 years’ experience, Scott advises clients on workforce management solutions, works with the industry institute CIPS as a trusted knowledge partner, and provides strategic leadership to Hays’ procurement and supply chain recruitment experts.

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