Era notwithstanding, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln may very well have succeeded as Procurement professionals. The Father of our Country excelled at motivating those around him, and his propensity for out-of-the-box solutions certainly provided a competitive edge. Abe proved similarly savvy in high-pressure situations. No schism between departments could ever compare to the conflicts of his presidency. What's more, his legal background would have served the contracting and negotiations process well.

Their strongest asset, however, (at least where Procurement is concerned) was probably their fabled honesty. Our 16th President was upright enough to earn the nickname Honest Abe, and every schoolchild in America remembers the story of George Washington and his father's cherry tree.

Washington probably never said, "I cannot tell a lie." It's equally unlikely that Lincoln, then a general store clerk, followed a customer for miles to provide him the correct change. They're not here to clear the air, so, for the sake of this hypothetical exercise, let's assume both legends are true.

Honesty, transparency, and integrity should define both Procurement's domestic (internal) and foreign (external) policies.

Domestic Policy:

Procurement professionals at every level should feel comfortable engaging in transparent dialogue with their peers.  For managers, this means clearly communicating expectations and providing consistent, honest feedback. Doing so is the only way to ensure that each member of the team understands their role and performs to their full potential.

More junior resources should show the same level of honesty. It's important they feel empowered to respectfully express their true feelings regarding workload, performance, and their perception of the Procurement team as a whole.

Senior leadership, too, needs to pride honesty in their interactions with employees. No member of the team should feel shut off from the company's operations. Professionals at the highest level should ensure that everyone is up-to-speed on new developments, fully aware of the company's mission and goals, and ready to provide their honest feedback if necessary.

Foreign Policy:

External stakeholder relationships depend on honest communication.  With so many services providers out there, an upfront and transparent communication style could be what sets your team apart.

In some companies, Procurement can look like an intrusion. Few organizations like being told to cut ties with their preferred suppliers or make changes to long-standing policies.  Even harsh truths, however, are better than lies. By presenting themselves as honest and trustworthy allies, Procurement can help smooth these transitions and mitigate any push-back.

The same rules of any relationship apply to relationships with suppliers and other external stakeholders. They can't hope to thrive if either party fails to establish trust. Whether you're advising a stakeholder to set more attainable savings goals, offering tips for reorganization, or making suggestions for supply base consolidation, honesty is essential to the relationship's continued success.

Looking for help in your next campaign? Cast a vote for the Strategic Sourcing experts at Source One.  Together we'll help improve Procurement's approval rating within your organization and build a cabinet of best-in-class suppliers.
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