Likeability: a success factor for sourcing leaders?

By November 7, 2012April 12th, 2021Archive

The slog-em-out that characterized this year’s American presidential race surfaces the question of likeability. Was likeability—rather than the right vision or a realistic plan for the country’s future—the reason one bloke won as opposed to the other? The American electorate seemed to rate it. Empathy and a regular Joe approach with a murky vision appeared to trump aloof and out of touch…and another murky vision. By extrapolation, should sourcing leaders worry about whether their stakeholders like them?

Now I don’t expect that most sourcing leaders will become their organization’s candidates for Mr. and Ms. Popular; after all, who would vote for a leader whose job it is to change the business model, standardize processes, lay off long term employees and move jobs offshore to kids with nary a sense of the cultural context in which the work is done. For hugs and kisses, it’s better to get your loving at home.

But likeability does play into a sourcing leader’s ability to move the dial in his organization. If Sourcing Leader is not likeable, few business leaders will work hard to accommodate a meeting. Unlikeable, and those made redundant blame the messenger, not the message. Unlikeable and said Sourcing Leader is seen as the instrument of all that is corporate evil, not the implementer of business model change. Unlikeable, and the ability to work together to solve a problem becomes almost impossible. Unlikeable and Sourcing Leader has no influence, and a short career shelf life.

What are some of the attributes that contribute to likeability?

  • Empathy—Don’t underestimate the implications of the corny statement “I feel your pain.”  Stakeholders want to deal with sourcing leaders who can see it their way, or have a beer with them, even if their position is diametrically opposed.
  • Human emotion—Data geeks or corporate automatons are rarely liked. Being able to show emotion is critical to the sourcing leader’s ability to relate. You don’t have to look much farther than the 2012 election to see the power of human emotion.
  • Transparency—“What you see is what you get” may be a bit of a trite statement, but stakeholders prefer to work with sourcing leaders that they can trust.
  • Enthusiasm—A bit of energy goes a long way in likeability. Why would a stakeholder engage with a sourcing leader who has no enthusiasm for his mission?

Remember your school days? No one would play with the class bully. And the whiner (or whinger) was always picked last for any sports team. Yet the most likeable were always front and center, even though they may not have been the smartest or the best looking. Don’t give short shrift to likeability….it opens the door and gives you a wedge into making sourcing change.

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