Vendor Management / Leadership Skills

Vendor management usually requires an effective and a skillful workforce to manage a vendor/s. There are many aspects which go in vendor management like leadership, skilled labor, and experienced project managers to see through the entire stage of the engagement. Most of the project managers are well aware of the subject matter and are highly trained in that order. But managing the entire team through all the stages of vendor management requires a set of leadership skills along with their domain expertise.

So now the question arises is ‘What makes a good leader?’ or ‘What constitutes to a good vendor manager?’ The answer to this is not limited. There are many things which go into making a good vendor manager or a good leader. Some vendor managers’ deal with the daily activities – tracking the project schedule, delivery on time, managing the resources and working with the internal stakeholders to get the process aligned best suitable for the project and so on. Leadership may depend on or may vary from the type of project, its cost, its size, duration and the other complexities which may hamper the deadlines. Another approach which is common is going by what has been agreed in the contract, the relationship between the client and the vendor, the technology aspect, and the overall approach of the work being done.

Some of the below points might help a resource or project manager be an effective leader of a team –

  1. Define the objectives clearly initially, align process within the scope of the project, take the initiative of vendor actions and priorities, risk analysis and mitigation
  2. Strive to improve performance, quality, innovation, and value of the work which will help strengthen the business relationships instead of only following the contract
  3. Create effective communication between both parties and solve problems more collaboratively exploring a wide range of options. Use the vendor’s experience with different clients and come with a generic solution to the problems without narrowing the scope
  4. Build teams which abide by the company ethics and culture which will enforce them to interact with the client directly when in need

Leadership can be required at any level, be it small team or a big one. Also the level of leadership can change in a large and complex situation but the generic skill should be universal. The idea is how you develop those skills and how effectively you execute those in your work methods. Below mentioned are a few of those –

  1. Clear vision upfront and of the outcomes and an appropriate approach to that vision which is easier for others to grasp
  2. Good communication skills to understand and convey to the entire team
  3. Emotional intelligence to read situations, and strength to take a stand as and when needed
  4. Create a healthy environment at work and work with different people, profession and styles
  5. Maintain a sense of project deadlines and good planning skills
  6. Ability to learn from others and helping each other grow as an individual
  7. Problem-solving skills, and the ability to engage others in the process
  8. Good negotiation skills in agreeing to contracts as well as between team members
  9. Flexible enough to adapt to changes – in technology, work environment, resources and also help others to adapt

People may often relate these above qualities to their managers or team leads and will work towards achieving those in their personality. Some might use their old methods and behaviors which have worked for them in the past and which are more comfortable to them. While an individual is developing from being an individual resource to being a subject matter expert, it is essential to have an influential and a good leadership quality in terms of achieving the goal ahead. They should not just rely on their domain expertise but keep a broader view of things and people and act accordingly. Leadership skills can be more strengthened by working with a small team at first and get structured feedbacks for the same. Trainings, behavioral modeling programs, and self-study with practice for the more straightforward techniques are other common methods to use. But as they say the best experience is the on-field experience and that’s when you will have to take a stock of the above things in leading others.