2 min read

The CPO’s Secret Superpower: EQ in Procurement

All seasoned procurement professionals know that mastering a diverse set of skills is crucial for success. While technical expertise is often prioritized, emotional intelligence—an equally important skill—is often overlooked. While not always top of mind when considering skills contributing to overall success, acting empathetically and exceeding professional expectations enables procurement professionals to navigate complex relationships with stakeholders, build trust, and accomplish their objectives.


Understanding the Dynamics of Cross-functional Collaboration


Procurement professionals frequently collaborate with external players that do not directly report to them, like legal teams, security personnel, and business leaders across functions. Unlike a traditional corporate structure where authority is concentrated at the top, procurement professionals must facilitate two-way communication, trust, and respect across varying levels of seniority to maintain productive relationships. 


For example, when additional information is needed or when order delivery times are extended unexpectedly, fostering open dialogue is crucial to overall satisfaction and productivity. This requires a keen understanding of how to effectively interact with others and cultivate strong relationships. 


Language, Reputation, and Trust


To prosper in procurement, leaders must become “multilingual.” Speaking the “language” of each department and stakeholder, meaning an ability to use industry or vertical-specific terms with confidence, is integral to success. Being perceived as a professional that understands both the unique “language” and, by default, the needs of those they are serving contributes to building a strong industry reputation and trust in the process. Becoming “fluent” in your collaborator’s native “language” is a gradual process, but the dedication to understanding demonstrates a grasp of the organization's culture—a marker of high EQ for procurement practitioners.


Adapting Strategies to Different Work Environments


Alongside developing an understanding of your colleagues' communication styles, adaptability in different work environments also plays a pivotal part in procurement’s success. Procurement professionals must adapt their strategies to suit the environment in which they are working and develop tactics that align with the organization's structure and dynamics. For example, turnaround time across the organization may differ based on team and project. Taking time to properly set expectations up front helps maximize efficiency over the lifetime of the project. Further, a top-down view of project deliverables enables procurement professionals to navigate complex tasks effectively. 


The Holistic Skillset


Great procurement professionals understand the value of improving their workplace emotional intelligence. While technical knowledge is essential, collaboration, communication and flexibility in complex work environments are equally critical to success in the long term. By committing to improving emotional intelligence, procurement teams can drive outcomes quickly and with ease.


In the dynamic procurement landscape, emotional intelligence plays a vital role in shaping constructive interactions and fruitful collaborations. By mastering this skill set, procurement professionals can navigate the complexities of working with diverse stakeholders, building trust, and accomplishing their objectives. As procurement evolves, professionals must recognize the multifaceted nature of their role and prioritize the integration of emotional intelligence with technical expertise. It is through these skills that procurement professionals can ultimately excel and make a lasting impact on their respective organizations.

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