Much has been written about the core beliefs of great managers and CEOs, including a recent article by Geoffrey James in Inc. on the “Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses” (www.inc.com). I would like to take James’s core beliefs and apply them to proposal managers because I think they are very appropriate.
1. Proposals are an ecosystem, not a battlefield
Developing a proposal is not like going to war and it need not involve lacerating conflicts. Great proposal managers build teams that thrive on cooperation and partnerships, even with competitors.
2. A company is a community, not a machine
Members of proposal trams are professionals, not cogs in some impersonal machine. Great proposal managers help inspire team members to help each other and their company, not treat each other as expendable parts.
3. Management is primarily a form of service, not control
Proposal teams work best when they are not micro-managed. Great proposal managers set a general direction, coach and mentor provide team members with needed resources, and help them succeed. When your teammates become stars, you become a star.
4. Proposal team members are colleagues, not children
Team members are not immature, inferior beings who cannot be trusted. Great proposal managers treat their colleagues with the respect due professionals and adults.
5. Motivation comes from something positive, not from fear
Good proposal managers do not strike fear in their teams or manage through threats. Instead, they inspire the team to perform well by forging a culture that thrives on cooperation and that expects great things from everyone.
6. Change leads to growth, not pain
Change is inevitable and need not be upsetting or threatening. Great proposal managers help their proposal teams make the kinds of changes that lead to the submission of winning proposals.
7. IT offers empowerment, not control
IT can be used to monitor proposal teams, but that is not an important function. Great proposal managers use technology to help teammates achieve their goals and build better relationships.
8. Work should be enjoyable, not just toil
Work is a way to achieve goals and not punish people. Great proposal managers try to help teammates work in ways that will lead to satisfaction and even enjoyment.
Great proposal managers have great core beliefs which they use to develop highly competitive proposals. Having a sterling vision is not enough, but successful proposal managers must find ways to use the workplace, their organizations, and team dynamics to accomplish an ambitious goal. And what could be more ambitious than developing a winning proposal from scratch?