Bid Leadership at its best

Bid_Outcomes 2

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 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.
  • A 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 learnt 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 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 timeframes, 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?

Let’s start a debate – what are your views?

Gill How has over twenty years experience of supporting bid, tender, sales, project and leadership teams – helping them be at their best everyday. If you would like an exploratory conversation to see how she can help you meet your goals, contact her here.




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One Comment

  • Gill How says:

    These are comments from LinkedIn:

    Stephanie Campbell, CF APMP
    Proposal Director at Accreon Inc.
    Love this – chalk one up for having high standards! I think another point (that goes along with understanding that it’s a team sport) is simply being kind to people. People are much more likely to get on board with you and want to contribute to your team if you are kind to them – and this works both ways. We’re all under pressure to produce, but sometimes a little kindness can go a long way.
    Gill How Gill How AUTHOR YOU
    Growing the leadership of winning teams
    I agree Stephanie! There’s something about seeing ourselves as whole people here and not just tasks on legs…

    Peter Kalton
    Operations and Project Manager
    Having worked in rail bid teams a few years ago the points in your article really resonate with me. Leadership in bids makes a massive difference.
    LikeReply(1)2 months ago
    Gill How Gill How AUTHOR YOU
    Growing the leadership of winning teams
    Thanks, Peter Kalton, appreciated!

    Sam Snelling CF.APMP Sam Snelling CF.APMP 1st
    Senior Bid Manager at Lakehouse
    I really liked your article Gill, thank-you. This side of the process is often overlooked and ‘watered down’, when in reality, it is one of the most important parts of bidding, developing and submitting winning tender submissions and successful happy teams. If I could add one point, it would be to encourage the creative flair of the team, letting everyone have their input, but managing expectations at the same time.
    LikeReply(1)2 months ago
    Gill How Gill How AUTHOR YOU
    Growing the leadership of winning teams
    Thank you for your comment, Sam! I agree with you about the creative flair, particularly in the early stages of the bid. Good to get this one explicit too!

    Sandeep Rao Sandeep Rao 2nd
    Sr. Technology Specialist
    Great article
    LikeReply(1)2 months ago
    Gill How Gill How AUTHOR YOU
    Growing the leadership of winning teams
    Thank you Sandeep!

    Terence McGuire Terence McGuire 1st
    Bid Team Manager at JFD
    An interesting article which does indeed resonate. I would be interested in your views on how to engage and enthuse those who adopt an insular approach to their contribution to a major bid. In my view, the so called scardey cats, the ones who will deliberately wait to provide you with their content at the 11th hour so that it can not be changed.
    LikeReply(1)2 months ago
    Gill How Gill How AUTHOR YOU
    Growing the leadership of winning teams
    Thanks for your question Terence McGuire – I enjoyed looking at your posts too! My thoughts are this – I wonder if making sure people truly understand their and the bid’s interdependencies can help crack this one – i.e. the win which matters is the overall one, not a component part. This is easier said than done I know. I’ve got another post coming with some further thoughts…

    Gill How Gill How AUTHOR YOU
    Growing the leadership of winning teams
    From discussion with others I can’t believe that I missed out sense of humour!! Essential! How did I forget that?

    Alex Warner Alex Warner 1st
    Managing Director, Royal Mail Specialist Services and Owner, Flash Forward Consulting Ltd
    Brilliant article by Gill How and one which touches on something that isn’t discussed very often – if not at all – bid leadership. Worked with Gill How on the successful London Overgrond bid for Arriva and she was an inspiration.
    LikeReply(1)2 months ago
    Gill How Gill How AUTHOR YOU
    Growing the leadership of winning teams
    Thank you Alex! It’s great to be getting the debate out there! It’s always enjoyable to work with you too!

    Claire Bussell CF .APMP Claire Bussell CF .APMP 1st
    Senior Bid Manager at Lakehouse
    Brilliant article. Great to see someone focus on how developing team relationships can enhance the bidding process. Thank you

    Gill How Gill How AUTHOR YOU
    Growing the leadership of winning teams
    Thank you! I hadn’t quite thought of it as developing team relationships but that is exactly right, almost as an outcome from the investment in leadership….

    James Mitchell James Mitchell 1st
    Business Development Manager at SSE Contracting
    Great read, thanks!
    LikeReply(1)2 months ago
    Gill How Gill How AUTHOR YOU
    Growing the leadership of winning teams
    Thank you! Appreciated!

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