We Are Who We Are: Top 5 Procurement Personalities – Part 2


In the last edition of this multi-part series, we started drilling into the top 5 personality styles for procurement. In this edition, we’ll finish off the analysis and discuss a few implications.

Coming into the No. 2 spot is the ENTP (Extroversion, Intuition, Thinking, Perception).

Approximately 12.1% of procurement professionals in a recent personality study were ENTP’s (compared with only 3.2% of the general population!). The ENTP, typified as the Visionary or Debater, is defined as ”quick, ingenious, stimulating, alert, and outspoken. Resourceful in solving new and challenging problems. Adept at generating conceptual possibilities and then analyzing them strategically. Good at reading other people.”

FREE Research: The 4 Faces of Procurement

ENTPs love new ideas and love debating them even more – to a fault. Sort of like this old Monty Python skit on contradicting versus arguing. I call them “BWs” (i.e., “better ways”). My mom was one. My wife is one. And I’m one (although I’m actually a bit more of an INTP, “The Thinker”). They can drive you nuts! And I apologize (although it is sort of my job).

Anyway, if you’re an ENTP, you’d probably be best suited to gear it back a notch and to help others explore a few possibilities, but quickly work toward getting consensus and moving forward (and if you can make it seem like the team’s idea rather than yours – so much the better!). You’ll transform yourself from a combative BW who drags everyone down to a valued and collaborative expert that is sought after for new ideas to work through problems and get to workable solutions. If you do nothing though, it’ll affect you. Although it ranks No. 2 overall in prevalence, it ranks No. 3 for the VP-level CPO and No. 4 for the EVP/C-Level CPO.

ENTJ’s (Extroversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judgment) known as the Commander or Executive, can be described as “Frank, decisive, assume leadership readily. Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies, develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems. Enjoy long-term planning and goal setting. Usually well-informed, well-read, enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in presenting their ideas.”

This is the C-level personality style – the person that makes far more in salary than any of the others (beyond just procurement), and within procurement, this is actually the top ranking (i.e., most prevalent) personality for C-level CPOs even though it’s No. 4 in procurement overall. We’ll get back to salary analysis in later posts.

ESTP’s (Extroversion, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving) known as the Entrepreneurs or Doers, can be described as “Flexible and tolerant, they take a pragmatic approach focused on immediate results. Theories and conceptual explanations bore them ­­– they want to act energetically to solve the problem.” ESTP’s love to engage and implement. They don’t argue forever like ENTPs, nor do they implement like top-ranked ESTJ’s because “that’s the right way to it and how it’s supposed to be done.” They just like the action and getting the results – they’re not tied down by existing models and dogma. This is also the No. 2 spot for C-level CPOs, compared to No. 5 for VP-level CPOs and No. 7 for director level. So, their pragmatism, flexibility and tolerance, combined with not being shackled by existing mindsets and operating models, allows them to work collaboratively with diverse stakeholder groups to still deliver results, but using different approaches. They don’t “hit the wall” and continue doing so by using the same old approaches and techniques. There is something to learn here from this.

Although this discussion of personality types can be soft and squishy at first glance, you can hopefully see that these personality styles actually matter in terms of:

Making more money and getting promoted. We’ll present the salary implications in subsequent research publications, but you can start getting a sense. By the way, the ISTJ personality that dominates the CIO ranks is No. 2 for entry-level procurement staff, but it drops to No. 5 for CPOs. Introverted guardians who can’t find new operating models and sources of collaborative value generation will not move up the ranks nearly as easily. So, self-awareness of yourself and others can help improve some of these skills that will spill over into broader business acumen competencies such as relationship building, change management, communication, decision making, leadership and others. These will, in turn, help procurement improve its influence, effectiveness, breadth of service offering, flexibility and so on.

Of course, personality typing only goes so far, and there are some downsides – e.g., overgeneralizing people, type-casting them into these archetypal buckets and then freely sharing them with one other so that everyone begins labeling and psycho-analyzing one other. But, the whole point of this process is to generate self-awareness, so hopefully you will be self-aware enough to recognize the potential downsides. Anyway, we’ll be writing more about the broader talent management implications of this in much greater detail, so stay tuned!

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