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Procurement Perspectives: Difficult times call for stronger leadership

Stephen Bauld
Procurement Perspectives: Difficult times call for stronger leadership

In these most extraordinary times of the pandemic the call for leadership and positive attitudes could not be more important.

This applies not only to procurement and supply chain management, but to every aspect of business. All happiness is in the mind runs the proverb. The right attitude to life is another important element of leadership.

Norman Vincent Peale once observed that, “Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude towards it, for that determines our success or failure.”

A person that takes the time to read the life stories of great athletes, military leaders, successful business people and inventors will quickly come to one realization: very often in life, attitude is as important as is the ability in securing success.

After all my years of coaching championship hockey teams, I can unequivocally say that games are usually won by the team with the best attitude, rather than the best players.

The right attitude requires faith in the organization, its staff, and by the leader in himself or herself, but most of all the idea that victory is attainable. It also requires effort, focus and attention to detail.

Complainers rarely become leaders. They spend too much time focusing on what is wrong that they have no idea how to make things right. Those who would become leaders need a generally positive attitude both towards those who have authority over them and towards the rank and file of the organization. While those in opposition may complain there are problems to be corrected, they must do so in a generally positive way that conveys the certainty that correction is possible.

In general, leaders exhibit competitiveness and accept challenge. It is their goal to become the best that they can become and to help others to do the same.

They behave in an active and assertive manner. They seek to stand out from their group and assume high visibility. Attitudes of this sort are consistent with modern writing concerning motivational theory, but they were an important element of leadership millennia before anyone gave the theory a name.

The right attitude incorporates humility. A true leader is never so wise as to need not ask questions, nor so knowledgeable as not to be prepared to learn something new.

They are also sufficiently humble as to be realistic about the strengths of their competitors. Since the competition that we all face in life is often fierce, goals must be pursued with relentless energy.

One should never forget that every prize will attract numerous contestants. To win, a leader must learn to be stronger than those with whom he or she must compete. A wise leader must also plan for the possibility of setbacks, but it is never wise to plan on the assumption of defeat. Too often, expectation of defeat is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Leaders must develop and concentrate all efforts on a game plan of winning, not losing in an honourable manner. Endless reflection on why ideas may not work is no substitute for finding ways to make sure that they will.

The newspaper columnist, Ann Landers, once gave the following advice:

“If I were asked to give what I consider the most useful bit of advice for all humanity it would be this: Except trouble as an inevitable part of life and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, ‘I will be bigger than you; you cannot defeat me.’ ”

The right attitude maximizes the chance of success. Belief in victory lends itself to action; fear of defeat, only to indecision and procrastination.

There is an old French proverb, “to believe a thing is impossible is to make it so.” While attitude may not guarantee success, there is a much higher prospect that a person with a positive attitude will give a full effort.

Stephen Bauld is a government procurement expert and can be reached at Some of his columns may contain excerpts from The Municipal Procurement Handbook published by Butterworths.

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