I can remember being called into the Managing Partners office at Pick Everard. I was in my twenties, had recently expanded my role to head up bidding for the whole practice, and I was in trouble.
I was facing a challenge many bid managers face. I was under resourced and stressed, and it was impacting on my relationships with the subject matter experts I needed to help deliver our bids.
I had a bid team formed of resources borrowed and 'seconded' to me from other parts of the business, most of which didn't really want to do bidding. And, combined with a growing workload of bids and things people felt 'the bid team' should be doing (industry questionnaires, marketing material, formatting client reports), the stress led me to get a reputation for having a fiery temper and a short fuse.
Sitting in the boss's office, I listened as I was told whilst we were winning more work than ever, improvements were needed in my attitude.
"I don't need people to like you, but I need them to not hate you" was the strange instruction given to me. This became a regular piece of feedback I got over the next few years whenever I ended up in a tussle over resources or quality of input into a bid.
It took me time to learn that building relationships and being a positive leader and role model in the bid team actually delivers better results. Saying please and thank you, giving people the time they needed to deliver the best results and always remaining a positive influence on the team has enabled me to deliver more as a Bid Manager, Head of Bids and, most recently, as a Bid Director leading large, multi-partner bid teams.
I've been very fortunate to learn this early in my career, but I'm thankful I have. It's a lessons all leaders need to learn quickly.
Egos don’t write proposals; productive employees do. So, the less miserable the process, the more productive the proposal team is going to be at creating quality content.