Organizational Leadership News & Views

Leaders achieve positive results with strong negotiation skills

  • Alvernia MOL

Leaders know that to get the best out of employees, business partners and vendors, strong negotiation skills are necessary.

Negotiation is not simply about winning an argument; rather it’s about bringing people together and reaching a decision that’s best for everyone. Sure, many people associate the phrase ‘hard ball’ with the word ‘negotiate’ but this approach can be detrimental to an on-going relationship. Which is why soft skills are so important.

In a previous post, we wrote about the strong bond between organizational leadership and communications. In that post, we cited a Forbes article that said the ability to relate to others was named the top skill to succeed at work and strong communication was listed as the second most important skill.

Professionals are constantly approached with situations that require negotiating. For example, in a project meeting a manager must talk about technical specifications, deadlines, staff management and budget needs with colleagues. Solving problems, setting timetables and delegating tasks are acts of negotiation in these meetings and your communications skills are tested in every one of these actions.

Leaders often find themselves in even more situations in which they negotiate with employees, investors, board members and customers. They often must find ways to effectively share their vision and appeal to the interests of those they are talking to.

The article “Negotiation skills are key for leaders” describes what some executives see as important aspects leaders should keep in mind about negotiating.

Some of their advice:

  • Prepare for negotiation
  • Build trust, which requires that the leader be credible
  • Have a best alternative
  • Control emotions and listen carefully to the other party
  • Be personable and build rapport

There are traits that effective negotiators, and leaders, possess. These traits include: flexibility, patience, and resilience. By being flexible, a negotiator can change their beliefs but still reach a win-win deal. Patience allows negotiators to keep calm and let others speak their minds before they jump to hasty decisions. A resilient attitude will help the negotiator keep their emotions under control.

The following video reviews the Mind Tool’s Win-Win approach to negotiating.

According to this video, it’s best to think about these major areas before you start negotiating:

Goals – what do you want, what do you think the other person wants?

Trades —What do you and the other person have that you can give to each other?

Alternatives – If you don’t reach an agreement, what happens next and how does that impact the future?

Relationships –What is your history together? What does this mean to the negotiation?

Expected Outcomes –Is there a precedent from any previous negotiations?

The Consequences – What are the consequences for both you and the other person?

Power –Who has the power in the relationship? Who stands to lose the most if agreement isn’t reached.

Possible Solutions – Look at all possible outcomes and think of possible compromises.

Here is a free worksheet from Mind Tools that you can use to prepare for your next negotiation.

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