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Bid Leadership at its best

With continuous pressure and emphasis on technical competence, delivery and deadline, attention to the “softer sides” of leadership can seem a luxury or optional extra.

There can be a perception there’s no time for this sort of stuff, or that it’s not important, or that it belongs to someone else, or can wait until another day.

In my twenty years of supporting some fantastic bid, sales, and leadership teams to develop a winning mentality and achieve their goals, I’ve come to the conclusion that effective bid leadership is very much about your skills, attitudes, and courage.

I’ve noticed these things are always present when bid leadership is at its best:

  • A vision and direction that engages hearts as well as minds. Your people get excited about how their task supports an overall purpose as well as organisational profit.
  • Inspiring communication. You communicate every which way so that all your team members can see bid opportunity, bid progress, and make an emotional connection with their work, inspiring effort, and action.
  • A commitment to bid type people. You already know that bid professionals are intelligent and motivated and accept this. They want their talents to be used, stretched and aligned with bid priorities every day. You offer this and demand it of them.
  • Understanding that it’s a team sport. You know that only a team can win a bid. You know it’s essential (although often hard) to model being the team member you want. You are courageous in conversation – to build relationships – to enable interdependency – to create a winning bid.
  • Respect for pressure. You bring a skilled and sensitive approach to managing workload, energy, and conflict between your bid professionals. You pay attention to how each person responds and changes their perspective as pressure increases during the bid. You give them a little slack when they need it.
  • Honest people management. You haven’t liked it, but you have learned to tackle non or unhelpful performance early, providing feedback and treating people with respect. You know that if you don’t, others have to work even harder to catch up on bid progress, sometimes permanently damaging outcomes and relationships.
  • Aiming high and a focus on synergy. You have outrageously high standards, have an improvement focus and never accept second best. (You also recognise this is different from demanding perfection.) You ask how different threads of the bid can fit together to create something much more innovative and interesting than the parts. You insist on it.
  • A balance of creativity and commercial reality. You use your judgement and are willing to take a calculated risk, engage with and challenge your stakeholders, to balance price and quality to offer the winning combination.
  • A commitment to win. You hang on in there, your persistence, resilience and tenacity continuously pushing for quality as you take your team, stakeholders and self the full distance to bid submission and the finish line.

What do you think? Does this resonate? What have I missed? What would you add?

I love to help leadership in bid teams go faster – where we develop the leadership of key people, meet bid requirements in real time and deliver a winning result, within high-pressure time-frames, one small step at a time.

But is it worth it? Does it improve the outcome? If not, I’ve written a nice list and nothing more.

Here’s how one bid team took the plunge to develop their leaders as part of a hugely important bid critical to their success.

I’m curious – how important is it for the leadership of your bid or tender to go faster, to increase your chances of winning? How much difference would it make?

Author: Gill How, Director Buonacorsi Consulting

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