Personality Traits of a Successful CPO

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Diptarup Chakraborti, vice president of marketing at Zycus.

It is said that a person’s leadership capabilities are tested in challenging situations. For a CPO, challenges are part and parcel of the routine. Since procurement touches every business function, a CPO’s attitude and style of functioning can have an organization-wide impact. So what are some of the personality traits that define a successful CPO?

Leadership Skills

Leaders lead from the front and set examples. A CPO’s success is measured by his track record. Does he have the ability to deliver? Does he have credibility with stakeholders — alliance partners, suppliers, team members and c-level executives within the organization? Understanding the organization’s strategy and tying it in with procurement, even with the help of models, such as OGSM, is essential for success in procurement leadership.


An ability to choose the right battles — and fighting them ferociously — but graciously walking away from the rest is a critical personality trait of a successful CPO. A selective approach to discussions and negotiations helps maintain a good balance of individual aspirations and business goals and also ensures that everyone stays motivated.


Building trust requires a transparent mode of functioning. For instance, the global provider of distinctive, high-quality ingredients and solutions from Britain has established a global cost reduction council under its CPO’s leadership. The council encourages active participation of cross-functional representatives in every important project. Such actions lend a great deal of transparency to the CPO role. It also improves the overall acceptance level of procurement-driven initiatives within the organization.

Functional Expertise

Apart from being a change agent and a visionary, a CPO must first be an expert in procurement functions. He should use every opportunity to keep learning new things in procurement, interact regularly with the community and stay updated about the latest developments, regulatory or otherwise.


An inspired leader can motivate others to act. CPOs should be self-motivated and go to great lengths with perseverance to continue on the chosen path to drive value. In addition, a CPO must also be courageous. Courage helps not only in accepting new challenges but also, at an interpersonal level, saying “no” when required.

Communication Skills

A CPO has to communicate effectively with team members, suppliers, alliance partners and top management. He needs to motivate his team to deliver results quarter after quarter. Attending training programs to brush up soft skills can be a good way to stay competitive.

Team Management Skills

The execution of a great vision requires support and involvement of the team. A CPO must involve his team in the decision-making process to earn their confidence and support. Allowing the team to take important functional decisions ensures that it stays motivated and committed to job.

Understanding of Business Strategy

Procurement alignment with business strategy is essential for the long-term success of the CPO function. A CPO must, therefore, understand the nuts and bolts of business strategy of which procurement is a part. On another level, adequate knowledge of business strategy can also help him explain new and evolving concepts, like strategic procurement, to the top management and other business peers.

Knowledge of Technology

A CPO must not feel intimidated by technology but leverage it as an opportunity. With advancements in business technology, there are many tools that help simplify and speed up procurement processes. The global cost reduction council at the British food ingredients company makes extensive use of data analytics to identify cost reduction opportunities and drive business value.

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