As the largest supplier of capture planning and proposal development leadership resources, we are extremely proud to be the headline sponsor and sponsor the 2020 Outstanding Leadership Award for the Association of Proposal Management Professionals United Kingdom Chapter (APMP UK) Awards 2020. You can register for the online event on 16 December here.
Leadership is that hard-to-define quality that makes the difference between winning occasionally and winning consistently, and between aspiring to win and knowing that you can win. Leaders have been defined by many notable people as the motivator, the problem solver, the director, the consensus builder, the guide, the visionary, and as many other roles or abilities. Perhaps Peter F. Drucker, the founder of Modern Management, offered the most practical and meaningful definition when he wrote, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” This statement is a powerfully clarifying way to think about the role of leadership. It is not the exclusive right or responsibility of a position or job in your organization. All of us can practice leadership as Drucker defined it, regardless of our job title or role.
After nearly 40 years of experience helping companies win new business, this quality—leadership—remains as the hallmark of our talent at SMA. You can train and test for skills, but leadership must be nurtured and developed from the insights gained from experiences with diverse teams and across different challenging situations.
Leadership in proposals is not just about executing your firm’s proposal process, even if you are an expert practitioner. A winning proposal team establishes a winning mindset at the start and maintains it throughout the process—constantly avoiding the mental pitfalls which lead to failure. Winning leadership requires a clear understanding of why teams lose—often because deep in their hearts, the team members fear to win. Cheerleading and motivational speeches at the morning “stand-ups” won’t reverse the losing behaviors of a dysfunctional team. Proposals are a human enterprise; they are staffed by human beings, each of whom brings his or her private agenda to the party and who, in their view, is acting purposefully and intelligently. It’s just that sometimes their private agendas and purposes do not coincide with the purpose of the proposal: Winning.
Proposals are created in a dynamic environment that is often highly stressful to most people, and the single most important factor in any proposal effort is the behavior of the participants. The proposal manager’s job is to lead a proposal process that wins, not just manage to the process. Therefore, he or she must prevent or correct behavior detrimental to winning and empower each contributor to similarly lead in their individual roles.
We pioneered the leadership techniques that to this day endure as the proven way to guide a proposal team’s behavior towards winning because they really want to win.
Hear what Ajay Patel, CF APMP, our President and CEO, has to say about the awards: