Commercial Team Leader: Why Is Your Pricing Team’s Intellectual Diversity so Important to EBIT Growth
As a Commercial Team Leader, you may not be surprised that the most critical factor in a high performing pricing team is NOT skill. A high competency level is necessary. However, the main things we look for are potential, intellectual diversity and how they’ll fit in with people and culture.
You can have some of the most skilled people in the industry but if they are a disruptive influence, rub people up the wrong way, and lack self-awareness, it causes chaos across your business. This will affect productivity which directly impact your bottom line.
Why every commercial team leader needs intellectual diversity in their pricing team
You cannot find intellectual diversity, which is a blend of must-have pricing skills, styles, and traits, in any one person. In other words, intellectual diversity only exists in a team. You’d be a slow path to nowhere looking for just one person to solve all your pricing and commercial problems.
For example, a pricing team that is achieving expected results and more not only have pricing expertise in a specialised area, but they can also look at problems and challenges with fresh eyes. They can see beyond the established ways of doing things – they can move beyond cost plus thinking and adopt new ways of thinking about value and price.
As a commercial team leader, you know that it is almost impossible to find a candidate who possesses all the traits and skills you are looking for. Just think about your team for a minute…
- Do you have lots of diverse viewpoints on your pricing team?
- Can you say you have people on your team who help you to view a problem from all angles
- Alternatively, would you say that your team is pretty similar across many dimensions often in furious agreement and happy with the results they achieve?
If yes, then you have a high intellectual diversity on your team, which is excellent. Your team’s probably outstanding and fast at solving problems.
If no, then you probably have low intellectual diversity on your team. This is okay, but a warning sign for a commercial team leader who wants more productivity and faster results.
A commercial leader needs dynamic tension
Just having diverse viewpoints on a pricing team is not enough. A commercial team leader needs to unlock and channel the creative tension accompanying the mixture of differences and similarities on their team as well.
What’s more, the emerging role of the commercial team leader in significant organisations is not to minimise this tension, but rather to channel it as a creative force for change and making money.
For example, our research shows that developing dynamic tension relies on the commercial team leader to understand the elements (big and small) that form unique business cultures. These cultural elements include:
- Leadership and work styles (formal versus informal)
- decision-making styles (intuitive vs. analytical)
- Information-sharing methods (preference for written, oral, face-to-face, text, email, video conference etc)
We find that expanded networks and mindset can improve both individual and organisational performance. On top of this results indicate that the most productive pricing team are ones which exhibit contradictory characteristics. (i.e., the best at getting EBIT growth and innovation outcomes).
Commercial team leaders who prepare and enable their pricing team members to understand others without judging – by leading by example – are more productive and successful than those who let their teams work it out organically.
An orchestra can’t perform well if the string or wind section is not there; similarly, a pricing team won’t achieve expected result with people whose strengths and styles are all the same.
Behavioural science demonstrates that commercial team leaders can be resistant or irritated by even the mere concept of intellectual diversity. Let alone managing it in a real business setting. It is not uncommon for commercial team leaders to reject the idea of intellectual diversity. Particularly when confronted and called out on their biases.
Although harnessing dynamic tension is a skill that few people have mastered, it leads to behavioural change, deliviering EBIT growth.
By acknowledging bias in our hiring and selection decisions, commercial team leaders we can do something about eliminating them. We can then expand our talent pool of potential candidates and improve financial performance and EBIT growth.
As a commercial team leader is not necessary to entertain everyone’s views on pricing matters. It is, however, essential to accept that there are many different methods, positions, and styles by which people can accomplish goals and directives. There is the possibility that other people’s views might sometimes be better than your view.
In this article, we discussed how the most critical factor in pricing team success is ‘dynamic tension.’ Dynamic tension’ is fuelled by a blend of thinking styles, skills and traits. These work together to produce shared outcomes.
As a commercial team leader, you’ve got to find the right balance of people for your pricing team to create enough ‘dynamic tension.’ Dynamic tension is the driving force behind the most innovative opportunities and profitable outcomes for your company.
Below listed are some tips commercial team leaders can use to harness the diverse intellectual capabilities of their team:
- Measure your team’s intellectual diversity
- Recognise your own biases before you hire
- Create a psychologically safe work environment where individual’s feel they can be themselves
- Build a team that brings together a mix of must-have pricing skills, as well as contradictory styles and capabilities
- Do not build a team which is a mirror image of you, the commercial team leader, and your strengths and capabilities.
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