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Leadership, Trust & Reality In The World of Sourcing

February 1, 2008

This week, IACCM released the results of its annual “Top Ten Most Frequently Negotiated Terms” survey. With responses representing thousands of b2b negotiators, it offers the world’s leading (perhaps only) insight to where negotiators spend their time and effort.

The list has shown little change over the 7 years in which IACCM has undertaken the study. And it shows most negotiations focus on ‘what happens when it goes wrong?’ One IACCM member wrote to me with the following observation:

“(Research has shown that) the top two perceived traits of respected leaders are Honesty and Competence, which – according to Covey – are exactly the elements required for trust. So, this means that successful leaders are those who inspire trust, but the question becomes  “in whom are they inspiring this trust?” Their employees may trust them and they may trust their fellow-employees, but when it comes to dealing with the outside world, neither the leaders nor the employees are good at establishing trustful relationships. Hence they spend all their time negotiating terms about failure and exit strategies.”

These observations are important. I would question one aspect of the writer’s statement – and that is about fellow-employees. I think the core of this problem is that many negotiators do not in fact trust their own organization. They are protecting against bad commitments, promises that cannot be honored, concerns over true requirements and capabilities. Perhaps that is why CEO’s have highlighted ‘excellence in execution’ as such a high priority issue – they understand that their company must be clearer about its needs and its promises.

You can view the ‘top terms’ (the study in fact identifies the top 30) at this link.

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