What are the Qualities of a Successful Procurement Leader?

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Being a leader encompasses much more than delegating projects to other employees. Peter Drucker, hailed by Businessweek as “the man who invented spend management,” once stated “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Although we can agree that Drucker’s statement is accurate, being a truly successful procurement leader is much more. What does it mean to “do the right thing?” Does “doing the right thing” mean creating an inspiring vision and then motivating others to reach that vision?

We will never be able to articulate a conclusive definition of the word “leader” because we each have our own definition. A leader can be someone who displays empathy, a mentor, or even someone who is able to manage projects, keeping their team on track and engaged. Maybe a leader is someone who has a combination of all three of these attributes?

After realizing my own interpretation of a leader, I decided to do a little research as to how other procurement professionals defined it.

Below are five articles that discuss what it takes to be a leader in the procurement industry, as well as in your own life.


  1. Discover what it takes to lead through transformation. When something changes, whether it be a reduction in staff or a repositioning of your department in your organization, your team looks to you for guidance and leadership. This article helps you understand how maintaining team engagement, speed of transition, and inspiring enthusiasm makes for a successful transformation.
  2. Learning from a positive experience is easy, but what makes a successful procurement leader is the ability to learn from failure. Can you look at negative experiences and take positive lessons from them to apply later in life? Self-leadership is as important as managing others. Become an effective leader by starting with yourself.
  3. Many successful leaders share qualities that define them such as decisiveness, confidence, inspiration and focus. This article discusses eight traits a strong leader should possess and how those traits can produce results beyond your wildest expectations.
  4. People who are passionate for what they do excel in their career and in their lives. All the knowledge in the world cannot make a successful procurement leader. Passion is one of the top attributes of a strong leader because having passion motivates you to make things happen. This article discusses the art of passionate leadership and how it plays a key role in job performance.
  5. The role of chief procurement officer changes as quickly as technology develops. Bill Dempsey, vice president of global strategic sourcing at Shire Pharmaceuticals and Eva Milko, former senior director of global procurement at Molson Coors and current vice president, product development at Procurement Leaders, list the most important skills future CPOs need to possess.

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