Ceci n’est pas un supplier

Not long ago, I met with the CEO of an international company based in the Netherlands. It started off well enough. He was charmed to hear that diversity was one of the basic drivers in my work. He was hoping to make some strides forward in that area, so he wanted to work with me.
He asked me to prepare. He wanted a pitch, a proposal, references from other companies and from candidates, …
And then he just wanted me to deliver a list of possible candidates. That’s it. He explained that he had other suppliers for further assessment, counselling and guidance through the process. I was curious why he wanted to subdivide the work like this. He said, ‘I find it reassuring to use these control procedures. It comforts me to have a system of suppliers that control each other.’

Okay, I’ll come out and say it. I don’t like the word ‘supplier’.

I am a service provider. I help inspiring leaders to form well calibrated teams so they can reach their goals. I analyze their situation and help them develop so that they can excel. I connect with people and I connect people to each other, so that we can all make an impact. Together. That’s what I do.

So no, I am not a supplier. What I provide is not a commodity. The way most people use the word ‘supplier’ gives me a feeling of alienation. Which is the opposite of what I hope to achieve through my work.
In order to do that work, I apply a combination of activities, resources and instruments like Executive Search, Assessments and Coaching – for either teams or executives.
There are several methods I can use to do that, but most of the time what I like to do is go beyond a particular method and apply a combination of seeing, feeling, committing and believing.
Fortunately, there are also people who see things that way too.

Last week a board member of another multinational called me. Out of the blue. He reminded me of our meeting some time ago. About my drivers on diversity. He told me that he was dedicated to diversity and that he had a problem in his team. He needed help.
Two days later, I talked to him about my analysis and how we could assist him. We exchanged ideas and I offered to make a proposal on how to proceed. His answer was simply, ‘Great! Send me the proposal. And whatever it might be, it’s already approved. I trust you. Just help me solve my problem.’
This board member, clearly, was not looking for a supplier.
My kind of person!

And now I have some work to do. Somebody needs my help.


– Bercan Günel